Companies and people do background checks to verify identity, screen for a criminal record, check employment history, confirm qualifications, etc. The purpose and frequency of background screening vary between firms, industries, sectors, and geographical regions. Recruiters will usually conduct pre-employment screening when you apply for a job. Some employers do background checks after someone is hired.
There are four background check levels, which this article will explore.
Level 1 is the most basic kind of background check. It covers someone’s place of residence and verification of employment. Companies in the finance industry or insurance sector have to check prospective hires’ fingerprints, but name-based screening is the main tool. Today, fingerprint checks are seen as far less valuable than digital screening. Online background screening reduces hiring risk as long as the person assigning them chooses a reliable service.
Usually, you run a level 2 background check through federal and state databases to screen for a criminal record. Companies will always go beyond the most basic level 1 check when hiring for a job that comes with a significant degree of responsibility.
Third-level background checks are the most common type by far. They consist of reference checks, criminal history checks, education verification, and a probe into employment history. Some jobs mandate pre-hire drug testing.
Companies run or order level 3 checks to ensure the candidate will not become a liability to them when hired. Basically, they make sure you’re hiring the right person for the job.
Background checks on this level cover court records on all government levels: county, state, and federal. The background check service starts by searching for felonies in district court records. Then, they will screen for more major crimes by checking county records. They might also check for petty offenses in municipal court databases.
The background screening service or the employer (if they are running checks in-house) can access information about felonies, or misdemeanors tried in the state by checking court records. They will find out someone was arrested if they look at arrest records, but that’s all. Information about whether they went to trial and were convicted isn’t available.
On a federal level, you can get access to records of convictions and of arrests. However, the information available might only include the person’s name, the number of the case, and the type of case, which really isn’t much to go on.
Finally, fourth-level checks are critical for hiring or promoting executives. They include a media search, a bankruptcy record search, and everything else covered by level 1, 2, and 3 checks. Level 4 checks can come with a real-time, manual search for criminal history info.
Background checks are a crucial element of recruitment, even if it’s just a simple ID verification or a detailed probe. Today, every company wants to hire the best person and avoid liability.
Most popular background checks
At the time of writing, criminal background checks are in the highest demand. They are the most common screening component because they shield a firm’s customers and staff from risk. Hiring someone who’s trustworthy is a top priority for every employer.
Social Security Number
SSN screening can reveal identity misappropriation. This simple check matches someone’s SSN to their name and address. Apart from confirming identity, SSN verification proves the applicant is allowed to work in the country.
Some employers will check if a candidate actually possesses the qualifications they claim to. Education checks cover credentials like diplomas and degrees. They are done to make sure the person has in-depth knowledge of the sector or segment they’re applying to work in.
In some cases, employers contact the university a candidate attended to confirm they completed the program. Education verification can also provide proof of additional training.
There are several reasons why employment history is of paramount importance. It helps employers predict performance and shows you have experience in a specific area. Companies will contact one or more former employers before making a final decision about a candidate.
The contact person might be a manager, supervisor, or someone who gave the applicant a reference. The employer will verify the job tasks and responsibilities and compare the data to what the applicant reported.
Finally, reference checks deepen employers’ understanding of a candidate’s expected performance, skills, and work ethic. If the employer can’t contact a reference, they only have an employment history to base their judgment on.