Background Checks: Here's What You Don't Know

Friday, December 01, 2017

Background checks are a necessary part of doing business. As an employer, there is so much you need to know to make sure a background check is performed correctly. Have you captured the right information? Do you know what goes into a good background check? What happens when a background check is not performed correctly? As employers, we have to make sure we have the answers to these questions. 

When most people think about a background check they think of gathering basic criminal history, but it is so much more than that. A background check, when performed correctly, is a timely and efficient legal investigation into a person’s past that is used to assist in employment decisions. It covers the entire process of verifying a candidate’s fitness for employment by conducting a comprehensive review of their background including criminal history, education, employment records, references, and more. Background checks assure that applicants can do what they say they can do through employment and educational verification. 

One of the primary reasons background checks are performed is to reduce legal liability for negligent hiring. While social security numbers, driving licenses, employment/educational history, and criminal records are usually required for a background check; there are a number of additional sources that may be required, including like address history, drug testing, credit report, and reference checks. Ultimately, the depth of a background check depends on the nature of the work required by the position being filled and employer guidelines. 

Beyond ordering a background check, do you know what goes into a well-performed one? A background check should be accurate, clear, concise, and easy to follow for the reviewer. There should be absolutely no confusion as to what type of check was done, where/how it was carried out, and what the findings show. One important thing to keep in mind is that while background checks can be helpful and provide valuable information, you should not rely solely on them when making hiring decisions. Background checks should be considered as one component amidst a wide range of information including interviews, cultural fit, and job duties, in order to find the best candidate for the role. 

In a perfect world, background checks would be performed by credible companies and return accurate and efficient results. However, flaws do exist in the background check process that may undermine their value and prevent suitable job candidates from securing jobs. Background checks often produce inaccurate or incomplete data which can lead to poor candidate experiences, high turnover, violence or theft, litigation and fines, higher recruiting costs, as well as reduction in job applicants. 

A recent study found that nearly two in five employers have lost a job candidate because of a poor background check experience; however less than half of those employers had done the due diligence of personally testing the process before putting their candidates through it1. Think about that. How can we ask a potential candidate to go through a process that we have never experienced ourselves? In fact, companies willing to invest time and resources into the background check process are three times more likely to track quality of hire1

In addition to knowing what goes into a good background check and the shortfalls of a bad one, employers need to have assurance that they can trust the background check company. Assuming that all screening companies supply high-quality screening processes and reporting is a common misconception. Approximately 75 percent of employers say that they have hired the wrong applicant and that it could have been avoided if the background check was performed correctly1. Mistakes like these can have significant negative impacts on your company, including increased costs, higher turnover, and bad candidate experiences. 

It has been estimated that 50 percent of the population lies on their resume and about 50 percent of references contain inaccurate information. These statistics capture why choosing the right background screening company is such an important decision². A reputable background screening company will provide a detailed company overview, conduct a sample background test, show process details, and provide a list of their accreditations. The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) website is an invaluable tool that has useful links, resources, as well as a list of accredited screening professionals. 

Done right, background screenings protect candidates, companies, and employees. Industry experts continue to stress the importance of being able to spot good background checks, know the shortfalls of a bad one, and what to look for when choosing a screening company. Best in class companies dedicate the time and resources necessary to ensure a good background check is completed for every candidate by a reliable vendor. 

As appropriate, AgileOne relies on our sister company, A-Check Global, to customize background screening solutions to meet each our client's unique requirements. Whether your business is a large global enterprise or an emerging start-up, A-Check Global can provide background screening options that meet both your risk management and hiring needs. 

For more information on how AgileOne and A-Check Global can help your business implement the background screening processes they need to be successful, please contact

Background Checks: Getting it Right in Real Life

AgileOne has a process to ensure clients get the most out of each background check. For example, during implementation, we discovered a client’s existing background check process needed refinement. It was determined that several demographic groups needed customized instructions to ensure they were able to complete an accurate, timely, and trusted background check. AgileOne worked side-by-side with the client to ensure each benchmark was met and exceeded expectations. Over a period of seven months, AgileOne was able to move background check timeliness from 15+ days to six days, with a less than three percent error rate. 

1 Career Builder. (2016). More than 1 in 4 Employers Do Not Conduct Background Checks of All New Employees, According to CareerBuilder Survey [Press Release] Retrieved from

2 First Advantage. “Background Check Evolution: From Hiring Requirement To Hiring Strategy (Part 1)” October 26, 2016 [Blog] Retrieved from