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Common Employment Background Check Mistakes that Can Hurt You

criminal background check, background check mistakes

Pre-employment screening enables businesses to learn about the work history, educational background, and other relevant information of candidates shortlisted for a job. As a result, you can make informed decisions and avoid hiring candidates who aren’t the right fit.

Do you need to fill vacancies in your organization? Then you should run a background check process to determine whether or not the candidate you intend to hire is suitable for the role. However, businesses can still make costly background check mistakes.

Some employers choose to perform this task on their own and risk policy compliance breaches and potential legal issues due to ever changing regulations. Let’s take a look at other common mistakes you should avoid in order to conduct an effective background check.

Mistake#1: Avoid Running a Background Check

Although professional background checks are a necessity for sound business practices, not every business considers it important because they believe it’s too expensive. However, a professional background check isn’t as expensive as you think, and the benefits provide for a cost-effective risk mitigation solution.

When you avoid criminal and background checks for employment, you can’t verify whether the candidate(s) were honest with you or they lied about their qualifications or employment history. Moreover, you may end up hiring candidates with a history of workplace misconduct or other criminal activities.

This is one of the most common background check mistakes, but you can avoid it by implementing effective policies.

Mistake#2: Inconsistent Policies

Standardized background check policies ensure that recruiters uniformly screen all potential candidates for a specific vacancy. But when there are no standardized procedures, recruiters may find out credit scores, criminal backgrounds, and a plethora of information about certain candidates, while considering it enough to run a brief social media screening test for others.

The absence of standard procedures increases the risk of discrimination claims as candidates may feel you wrongfully discriminated against them due to their cultural background, race, gender, or other factors.

Furthermore, this inconsistency portrays a negative image of your organization. Talented people may hesitate in applying for vacancies in your organization and would rather prefer working with organizations that have fair, transparent and consistent policies.

Mistake#3: Excess of Anything is Bad

You can’t ignore the importance of background checks when it comes to recruitment. On the other hand, overarching criminal and background checks for employment can also hurt your business.

For instance, you may advertise a vacancy for a Junior Marketing Executive. But when you shortlist the candidates after interviews, you decide to run a long list of background checks that aren’t even remotely related to the job post – from driving record to internet checks, social security number trace, credit score, international background checks, and many more.

How would candidates feel about these extensive background checks?

You may want to go the extra mile to find perfect employees; however, such actions may negatively affect your reputation. Candidates may think you are overly suspicious of them and unnecessarily prying into their lives. This lack of trust may drive employees away and increase the turnover rate.

To avoid this mistake, it’s best to maintain the right balance so you can find suitable employees without offending them.

background check, verify employment history

Mistake#4: Background Checks Aren’t Only for Permanent Employees

Do you think background checks are only suitable for new permanent hires? Then think again!

Aside from permanent employees, you should conduct background checks to learn about vendors, temporary staff, contractors, and other people who have access to your business premises. It gives you an idea about what kind of people your business is dealing with, keeps the workplace safe, and offers you peace of mind.

Further, you can conduct background checks for existing employees too. But whether it’s an existing employee or a potential new hire, make sure you ask them for written permission before doing so.

Mistake#5: Ineffective Use of Technology

Technology benefits almost every aspect of your business and recruitment decisions are no different. You can make the most of software to access websites and find relevant information for background checks.

However, some businesses rely too much on technology for finding facts. They automate the task of evaluating candidates and rejecting those who fail background checks.

Human intervention is essential when it comes to organizational background checks. What if a candidate has a strong educational background with sufficient experience but made a small mistake at some point? You don’t want to lose them without giving them a chance to explain their position.

There’s no doubt technology can speed up the process, but you should monitor the process and review the information to make the final recruitment decision.

Mistake#6: One-Size-Fits-All

You can’t set the same background check criteria for different hierarchical levels. The background checks for temporary employees would be different from the top management. For instance, you may choose a brief criminal record check for employees you hire on a temporary basis in the administration department. However, it’s crucial to run a comprehensive background check before hiring a Chief Financial Officer or other senior management roles.

Moreover, you should set standards for background checking at each hierarchical level to reduce the risk of discrimination.


Background checks help businesses verify the identity, employment history, and other relevant information of their employees as well as vendors and contractors. However, it’s a common background check mistake to ask the in-house HR staff to carry out this process without guiding them about compliance policies and regulations.

For this purpose, you may consider acquiring the services of professionals for effective background checks. When you leave the task to experts, you don’t have to worry about legal consequences.

Click here to learn more about the commercial background check process.

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