Performing a background check is an important part of any hiring process, regardless of whether you’re looking to fill a full-time job or a contract position. It’s an effective way to mitigate risks and ensure that you’re only bringing on trustworthy and capable individuals.

The benefits of a background check

A background check is a legal, efficient and cost-effective way to verify a candidate’s employment history, education, social media habits and criminal records. Employers can also use it to avoid hiring the wrong person, reduce liability costs and lower insurance rates for their company.

How does a background check work?

In a nutshell, a background check is performed by a consumer reporting agency (CRA) to find any negative information about an applicant that is reported in public record criminal databases. The CRA then reports the findings to the employer who requested the check, as required by the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

Some background checks include an extended search that allows employers to look back even further than credit history, which typically returns data up to seven years ago. However, some states have banned this sort of lookback, limiting the time frame that an employer can review an applicant’s criminal record.

When it comes to a criminal background check, the results should reveal any felony or misdemeanor convictions that occurred in the past seven years, including arrests and charges pending or already decided on. This information should also contain other relevant factors, like probation and revocations, and any court orders related to these offenses.

Many candidates are unaware of this fact, so it’s essential to let them know how a background check works when they submit their resume or application.

Once a candidate’s background is completed, an HR representative will review the results and inform the hiring manager if anything indicates that they should not be hired for the position. Often, if there are any red flags or incomplete or inaccurate information, the candidate will be asked to provide a response and the results of the investigation will be stored in a separate file for at least five years.

The HR director and management will assess the potential liabilities and risks, and decide if they want to offer the position to the applicant or not. If they decline the candidate based on any findings from the best background check, they must follow the adverse action process under the FCRA.

Depending on the type of check, results may be delivered in one to three business days, with some checks requiring up to five. In addition to criminal and employment background checks, some CRAs also offer credit checks and motor vehicle reports.

When a background check is completed, the information is delivered directly to the hiring company and will be archived in a separate file. The results are also notified to candidates, hiring managers and departmental HR contacts via email, and if any findings appear, they will be reviewed by Human Resources. If any findings indicate that the applicant should not be hired, an adverse action letter will be sent to the applicant to advise them of their rights under the FCRA.