How to Run a Background Check on a Potential or Existing Employee

Samir Sampat

Background checks can tell you a lot about potential candidates or employees that are already on your payroll. You can perform these checks to learn about employment and education history, potential criminal records, and so much more. Of course, to get the best information, you have to know how to go through the proper steps of running these checks in the first place. The good news is that there are third-party background screening services that you can employ. They will do all the hard work for you. 

Before you can just hand over the work, though, it helps if you understand all of your options for running background checks and most importantly, the rules that you must follow. Depending on your state and its employment laws, there may be different things to consider before adding background checks to your hiring checklist. However, having these reports could also prove to be invaluable so you’ll have to determine what’s best for your company. 

If you’re interested in running background checks, you’ve got to cover the legal elements first:

  • Talk to a lawyer and your insurance company
  • Review all state laws regarding background checks
  • Create a background check policy for your organization
  • Inform the candidate (or employee) that you will be performing the background check
  • Use FCRA-compliant software
  • Allow candidates to explain or dispute results 

It’s a simple process once you get it down, but getting started can take a little extra effort.  

Talk to lawyers and insurers

The first task on your list is to talk to your lawyers and insurance provider regarding background checks, including whether you should do them, how you can go about informing people or requesting information to run one, and how it could affect your business insurance and operations as compared to hiring people without background checks. 

You’re doing these checks to protect your business—you obviously want to make sure that they’re being done correctly to keep your business protected and compliant, too. Your lawyer and insurance company will also have insight about state and federal laws about screening for criminal history or employment history, as well as other information that you can use. 

Review the laws and create a policy 

Once you have a better idea of what you can and can’t do with this policy, it’s time to review the state laws for yourself and figure out how you can create an effective background screening policy without violating any of the aforementioned rules. You can’t just decide one day that you’re going to do background checks and start calling people into your office. You need to get some FCRA-compliant software or partner with a company that has said software so that you can execute reputable, well-informed background checks on your candidates.

You will need to take the time to come up with a company policy regarding how and when background checks are performed by your company, what rights people have, and how they can dispute or further discuss any issues or flags that may come back once the report is generated. If you’re not quite sure about creating your own policy, you can also rely on the company or provider doing your screenings to help you put some good guidelines on the books. 

Inform and involve candidates 

You cannot run a background check on someone without their permission or a search warrant. You need to inform everyone that this is part of your hiring process, or part of your internal development process if you’re screening an existing employee for a move in their career. In any case, you should let people know that this check will be conducted, what company will be conducting it, and what they can do to discuss or dispute any results that come in. 

You should also allow them to provide you with any information that may come back on the screening, such as criminal history or even a name change from their past. Transparency and honesty helps create a strong company culture, which is essential to the success of any business today. Candidates may try to hide things, but they will also know that a professional background screening could reveal just about anything, so they should be forthright. 

What all should you check?

Of course, everyone wants to know just what they should be looking for in their search. The reality is that no two companies will have the same needs. However, most background checks include items like those below:

  • Employment verification
  • Education verification
  • Certification, licensing, and credential checks
  • Criminal screening
  • SSN verification
  • Reference checks 

You can, of course, pick and choose from these elements to decide what to include in your background check screening, but these are the most common parts that are included. It is good to verify people’s employment and education because that will impact how useful they are to the role that you have open. People can stretch the truth. Some outright lie on their resumes. That’s why background checks can come in handy, among other things. 

While you’re managing your employees, let Smith.ai manage the calls, chats, and more

At Smith.ai, we know how valuable your business is to you. We also know how much time it can take to screen candidates and check up on employees to ensure that everything is still on the up and up. That’s why we offer virtual receptionists that can deliver a host of solutions from 24/7 phone answering to live website chat, scheduling and intake, and so much more. 

If you’re still working on the marketing, ask how our team can help with outbound sales support and outreach campaigns to generate leads in the first place. And we’ll tie it all together with a customized strategy to ensure that we cover every last detail.

To learn more, schedule a consultation to discuss what the 24/7 virtual receptionists at Smith.ai can do to help your lead generation, communications, and more. You can also reach us at hello@smith.ai or (650) 727-6484. 

Samir Sampat

Samir Sampat is a Marketing and Events Associate with Smith.ai. He has experience working with businesses of all sizes focusing on marketing, communications, and business development.

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