Why Are Employment Background Checks So Popular?

There are many reasons why doing background checks on potential employees is a good idea. They help employers ensure a sound hiring decision while protecting companies from a variety of potential risks.

Workplace Safety

Conducting a background check on potential employees can help to keep your workplace safer.  Employers may be held accountable for negligent hiring if one of their employees has a criminal record that was not discovered and then ends up harming other employees or customers.  Keep in mind that human resource representatives must be very careful when denying employment based off of a criminal record.  It is illegal to deny employment to qualified candidates if their previous legal incidents are not related to their potential performance in your industry.  Be sure to examine a candidate’s repeated history of misdemeanors in addition to single felony charges.  Pay close attention to the types of incidents reported and compare them with self-reported felonies listed on the application for employment.  If discrepancies are found between information found through a background check and self-reported information, you may have a strong case against hiring such a candidate. 

Workplace Theft

A recent study reports that approximately one out of every 36 employees has been apprehended for stealing from their employer and many more have likely stolen without getting caught.  Free employment background checks are an easy and convenient way to help employers cut down on employee theft.  Look for employees that have a clean theft record.

Job Competence

A tight job market has created a greater temptation for job applicants to overstate their job histories and inflate their educational qualifications.  Applicants sometimes inflate the number of months or years that they have worked for previous employers or exaggerate about past job responsibilities.  You can quickly check for accuracy of such statements by contacting employee references, including past employers.   As part of the background check process, you may also request a copy of collage transcripts to check for accuracies in grade point averages and degrees earned.  If discrepancies are found, you may want to ask job applicants for clarification before making a hiring decision.  It is important to ensure that all of your employees are properly qualified for their positions. 

Driving And Vehicle Records

It is not uncommon for employers to search the records of the Department of Motor Vehicles and Department Of Transportation to determine if job applicants are qualified drivers with clean records.  This is especially true among businesses that require their employees to drive either a company or a personal vehicle as part of their job responsibilities.  Even if an employee will not be required to drive on the job, a quick check of driving records can help employers determine if job applicants are generally cautious and responsible.

Drug Use

Pre-employment drug tests and background checks on illicit drug use help employers to protect their companies in a variety of ways.  Not only do they help to maintain a high standard of corporate ethics, but they tend improve employee performance.  Employees who are not dependent on illicit drugs are more likely to be productive and cognizant.  Drug tests also help to keep workers compensation premiums down.   

Financial History

Background checks can be used for more than finding out about a person’s criminal record or educational history.  Many employers are finding background checks helpful in exposing financial problems of job applicants.  Some may say that credit scores and past bankruptcies have nothing to do with successful employment and they these things should not be considered in the hiring process.  Although this may be true in some cases, if a job applicant has a history of struggling with finances, it may mean that they may be easily distracted and unorganized.  Employers have the right to know about anything that may detract from employees performing their duties properly.  However, before writing someone off due to financial history red flags, employers would be wise to ask the job applicant about the concern to see if it is a legitimate problem or not. 

Legal Working Status

Over the past several years, the number of immigration raids among businesses has increased.  This has increased the desire of employers to conduct background checks on job applicants to see if they are legally eligible to work in the country.  Background checks help to verify the information presented by new hires on government required I-9 documents. 

Personal Information

 Another reason why free employment background checks have become increasingly popular is that they give employers the ability to assess the general stability of job applicants.  Free online information can be obtained about the living situation of applicants.  You can easily find out about previous and current residencies of job applicants, as well as how often applicants move.  An applicant who does not stay in one location for very long may not be the long-term employee that you are searching for.  However, be careful about making instant judgments about personal information obtained through a background check.  Some applicants, such as those who have worked for the military or the federal government, may have a legitimate reason for relocating frequently.    

If you are a business owner, consider incorporating free employment background checks into your hiring process.  Although you can never completely judge a book by its cover, the information obtained in a background check can help you gain a better understanding of job applicants before you make a hiring decision.  Be sure to always use caution and never rely solely on background checks to make your hiring decision for you.  

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