How important are Background Checks?

Thorough screening of applicants is an essential part of HR Professionals’ responsibilities.  Making a “bad hire” because due diligence wasn’t followed can be very costly – not only financially – but in hours spent training and potential workplace ramifications that can affect the entire businesses’ workforce.

Performing background checks allows a deeper look into an applicant’s history, thereby assisting in making sound hiring decisions.  It is important to conduct criminal background checks to verify information provided by an applicant; to help reduce the threat of workplace violence; to reduce potential negligent hiring decisions and the legal consequences associated with them; and to demonstrate a responsible hiring process. In this day and age, with the unpredictable world we live in, background checks are becoming a more and more common step in the hiring process.

Keep in mind that if something is found in the criminal records check, it does not necessarily mean that the applicant should not be hired, however, especially if the person is qualified in every other way.  To bar employment for every applicant who has a criminal record can be considered a form of discrimination.  An employer may, however, deny employment if it can be justified as a company-related reason or if the applicant lied in the application process.

There are several components to conducting a criminal background check:

  •  Ensure the applicant completes a background authorization consent form.  It is recommended that this form be a part of the hiring packet that every applicant completes.
  • A criminal records check may be completed after the applicant signs the consent form
  • Commonly, a criminal check will provide the following information:  the person’s name, any aliases used, the applicant’s gender and race, their date of birth, any offenses and their dates, place of residence for the past seven years, and any dispositions or convictions and their dates
  • The information from these searches can come from databases that include county and state criminal court records, federal fugitive files, state Department of Corrections (DOC) files, prison parole records, and sex offender databases.  Each of these databases can provide different pieces of information on different levels.
  • There are many available vendors that provide a variety of background check types.  Determine what your background check needs are so you can select a supplier and package that suits your company requirements.

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