Top 10 questions asked by candidates about the screening process

Carrying out background checks on new employees is very common, with some checks being a legal requirement. 

Pre-employment screening helps employers protect their company, their employees and their customers. 

These are the top 10 questions asked by candidates about the screening process.

1.       How does background screening work?

Background checks are usually carried out by an HR department and often outsourced to an external screening provider. Background screening is designed to ensure that you are who you say you are and that you are suitable for the position for which you have applied.

2.       What background checks do employers make?

Employers can check your identity, immigration status, employment history and criminal records. They can also carry out credit checks, social media checks and health and medical checks.

3.       Do employers have to carry out background checks?

Employers are required by law to ensure that you have the legal right to work in the UK. Other background checks, such as criminal record checks and health checks are only a legal requirement for certain industries and positions. Employers have a legal obligation to ensure the safety of anyone who comes into contact with their business, this is why some checks are essential.

4.       Will a background check show that I was fired?

Employers are looking to find out whether you would make a good hire. Throughout the process they will ask for your job history and references from your previous positions. They will want to know the details of your previous employment, including dates and your reasons for leaving. Even if you don’t list that you were dismissed on your application, its likely that when following up with previous employers, the truth will come out. It’s best to be honest.

5.       How far back do background checks extend?

This depends on the nature of the position and the country in which the company is located. You can ask your potential employer how far back they will check employment records but expect it to be a minimum of 5 years. Criminal records checks are different, DBS checking has three main levels, basic, standard and enhanced. Standard and enhanced checks will list both unspent and spent convictions, cautions, warnings and reprimands, as long as they are not protected.

6.       Does background checking mean I’ve got the job?

Not necessarily. Some employers carry out background checks on all shortlisted applicants. And most job offers are made subject to satisfactory background checks. Check the terms of the offer on the offer letter.

7.       Do companies call your previous employer?

Unless you have specified that you do not wish your previous employer to be contacted, it is likely that potential employers will want to contact any previous employers by phone or in writing. You can request that they don’t, but you will need to explain why.

8.       Can employers withdraw a job offer based on the results of a background check?

The short answer is yes. Employers have the right to withdraw a job offer based on unsatisfactory background checks, particularly in reference to immigration status and criminal record which might make it an offence for them to hire someone unsuitable. However, employers are not allowed to refuse employment based on ethnicity, genetic history, age, gender, maternity status, sexual orientation or political opinions.

9.       How long does background checking take?

Depending on the method of checking used and the nature of the checks, background checking can take anywhere between 48 hours and four weeks.

10.   Can I refuse a background check?

Employers must ask for your consent to carry out background checks. But bear in mind that background checks are simply designed to ascertain whether you are suitable for the position. Employers have a legal obligation to carry out certain checks before they employ you, if they can’t carry out the checks, it is likely that your application will be terminated.

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