Making the wrong hiring decision can be disastrous for a company. Performing background checks and following the steps below can reduce the risk of a bad hire and ensure the safety of your company.

1. The first thing any business should do before conducting background checks is to establish a policy. This policy should outline the background check procedure that your company will follow. Some of the basic parts of quality background check procedures and policies are:

  • Background check all staff, including full-time and part-time employees, executives, and volunteers.
  • Have different levels of background checks. An entry-level position does not have the same risks as an executive position. High risk positions should have more comprehensive background checks than low risk positions.
    • Higher risk positions include ones which involve work with finances, customers’ homes, or children.
  • Ensure all documents are in compliance with local, state, and federal regulations.
  • Use a reputable Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA) who is a member of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS).
  • Receive signed background check consent forms from all applicants.

2. The starting point of any background check should be to verify the identity of the applicant. A social security trace report should be the first thing conducted, followed by court record searches. The social security number, name, and date of birth on these records should be checked for accuracy. Inaccuracies at this level increases the possibility of receiving records for someone other than the applicant you are searching for.

3. The application process should be thorough. The education, previous employment, qualifications, and criminal history should all be considered before hiring a new employee. The information given by the applicant should be verified. This includes employment, education, and credential verifications:

Employment Verification
Employment verification typically checks employment dates and positions with the employer. It can also include salary information, reason for leaving, and eligibility for rehire. However, some employers have policies that prevent some of this information from being released. In order for an employment verification to be made, the following information is required:

  • Name of the applicant at the time of employment
  • Name of the company
  • City and state where the company is located
  • Start and end employment dates
  • Job title

Education Verification
This verifies education history such as institution name, location, dates of enrollment, attendance and completion, degrees, and descriptions of degrees received. There is also a set of information required to verify education history, including:

  • Name of the applicant at the time of graduation
  • Name of the institution
  • Names of city, state, and campus
  • Dates of attendance and graduation
  • Indication of what degree or diploma was earned

Credential Verification
This provides verification of licenses, certifications, and other credentials listed by the applicant.

4. It is also important to check an applicant’s references. Applicants will most likely list people that they know will say good things about them. Sometimes, fake references are listed, and trying to contact them will expose this. It can also be beneficial to obtain additional references from the references that the applicant has listed. These references may be able to give you a better idea of the character of an applicant than the ones they listed.

These steps should not be overlooked out of convenience. Verifications are labor intensive and many companies choose to outsource these to a CRA. This saves companies time, and reduces their risk of hiring the wrong person.