11 common misconceptions about background checks

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1. Background checks just check for criminal history

There are many reasons why a candidate might be unsuitable for a job, a criminal history is only one of them. That’s why adequate pre-employment screening should include immigration status, reference checking, educational background, job history and, depending on the nature of the employment, even driving record and credit history.

2. Great references negate the need for background checks

Great references are a brilliant tool to check whether a candidate might have adequate qualities for a role, but these must be thoroughly validated to ensure that they are factually correct. But favourable references alone are not enough to ensure that someone will be a great hire.

3. There is no way to find out whether candidates have been truthful

Applicants might think they can get away with lying on their CV or application form, but adequate background screening will uncover half and untruths. Checking references and educational background as well as professional training and membership to professional bodies will help make sure that candidates are who they say they are and help prevent costly hiring mistakes.

4. An applicant cannot question background check findings

Candidates have the right to appeal criminal records check findings through the Disclosure and Barring service if a mistake has been made. The employer can also appeal on an employee’s behalf if they have the applicants consent.

5. Social media profiles are off limits to potential employers

While accessing information not in the public domain is illegal, employers are entitled to check openly available information about candidates to help protect themselves from a bad hire. This includes posts, images and videos that might have been uploaded to social networking sites, which might indicate that a candidate could pose a risk to your business reputation.

6. All background check companies provide the same information

While the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) operate a central register of criminal records, there are many different background checking companies who might offer different approaches to other pre-employment checks. It is crucial to enlist the help of a reputable screening company to ensure that their information is accurate, up to date and extensive.

7. If applicants haven’t committed a crime they are suitable candidates for employment

Depending on the nature of the work, employers should carry out comprehensive pre-employment checks on all aspects of a candidate including criminal history checking, to ensure that the applicant will be a suitable fit for the role. Educational background, previous work history and additional checks can provide a more accurate idea of the strengths and weaknesses of candidates.

8. Plenty of businesses don’t bother with background checks

In modern day business, most prudent companies include some kind of background checking in their hiring procedures, with up to 78% saying that they carry out checks on UK workers (Sterling Talent Solutions’ Background Checks 2018: UK Trends and Best Practices Report).

9. A bad background check means you should not hire the applicant

While background screening can provide invaluable information about a potential employee it is important to also look at more human ways of assessing a candidate’s suitability for a role. So, examining interview performance and how a candidate interacts on an interpersonal level can also help discern whether someone will be a good fit for your company.

10. Applicants are not entitled to see information found on their background check

As of 25th May 2018, any candidate has the right to perform a subject access request and obtain any information held about them from their employer or potential employer. Candidates also have the right to ask for a copy of any records the police might have about them.

11. I can find out everything I need to know from Google

While the internet is a valuable tool, not all information can be trusted as being accurate and up to date. Using a background screening service will ensure that all information has been legally obtained and is correct.