People usually think of background checks as a simple criminal history lookup. Truth is, the process involves a lot more than that. As an employer, it's something that can help you choose the best candidate by knowing his criminal background, but also his education and employment history, references, civil records and the like. Whatever you call them - background checks, pre-employment lookups, background lookups - they all do the same thing: protect you, your existing staff, your business and your customers.
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Here are five FAQs related to employment background checks:
1. Is it necessary to get permission to do an employment background check?
Actually, you do. Before you can start any lookup, you need to get the subject's permission first. This permission will usually come in two forms - authorization and disclosure.
2. What kind of information can you expect from a standard background check package?
While there is a standard background check package, there is no such thing as standard results because the needs of companies are different, even among those within the same industry. Your company's background lookup package must be based on your conditions for considering a job candidate eligible. Usually, however, the higher the position you're hiring for, the more stringent the lookup must be.
3. Up to what level of stringency may the testing be?
How stringent your background checks must be based on the risks that arise from potential criminal misconduct in each particular position. When you create the package, keep in mind that if screening is too lax, you may have criminals working in your company, bringing unnecessary risks to everyone involved. On the other hand, if screenings are too stringent, you may unknowingly discard opportunities to hire highly qualified applicants who are actually no threat to your business. Also remember that carrying out an extremely stringent background check can get you in trouble with the EEOC.
4. How long does a typical screening take?
Again, this depends on what specific service you need and how it is performed. A lot of searches only need a simple encoding of relevant information, and the results are instantly available. However, most of the time, a longer time is needed because of the need for a live record lookup. Some services combine live and database searches while other use a more unique style. Find services at
for more details.
5. How far back can you research a potential hire's background?
The FCRA restricts bankruptcies up to 10 years, while civil lawsuits, tax liens, and other adverse information (except criminal convictions) are limited up to 7 years, excluding cases where accessing records farther back is legally authorized. The only type of information source that has no federal restrictions are criminal convictions. Still, keep in mind that even when there are no federal limits on accessing criminal records, some states can be more restrictive. Check out
to find out how to check your criminal public records for free online.