Home Business Insights & Advice How thorough should you be during background checks for new employees?

How thorough should you be during background checks for new employees?

by Sarah Dunsby
20th Oct 23 1:11 pm

Hiring the right employee for your company can be a challenging endeavor for any business owner. Selecting candidates for a position requires you to look into their education, skills, and experience. Employers also need to consider the individual’s character, behaviors, and overall history.

Because of all the necessary factors, background checks have become a standard part of the hiring process. Conducting background checks is one of the most reliable ways to ensure that you’re hiring the right person for the job.

However, the question remains: how thorough should you be when conducting these checks? In this article, we’ll discuss how to decide the level of detail for background checks in your business.


First and foremost, you need to know if someone is who they really say they are. This is where identity verification comes in. It’s essential to confirm a candidate’s name, date of birth, and social security number. This information can help uncover any discrepancies or lies on the individual’s part.

However, it’s worth noting that some people may have changed their names for legitimate reasons, such as marriage or adoption. In these cases, be sure to ask for documentation, like a birth certificate, to support the name change.

The position

The research level of a background check should be determined based on the position in question. For example, a Fortune 500 company that hires a senior accountant would likely conduct a thorough investigation due to the level of trust involved with someone handling their finances.

Other occupations, such as surgeons, firefighters, or law enforcement officers, will require thorough background checks due to the challenging and often “life or death” nature of these jobs. However, the level of research can vary based on the role and responsibility required for the job.

Criminal records

One of the most important aspects of a background check is criminal history. You must ensure that the candidate has no prior charges related to the job position. This is vital for the safety and security of the workplace and fellow employees.

Depending on the position’s level of risk, the employer may need to conduct a more extensive background check, including criminal search, civil litigation records, bankruptcy, and other public records.

Education verification

Verification of the candidate’s educational and employment history is also important. While many jobs don’t require a formal education, it’s crucial to confirm the level of education and any degrees or certifications the candidate claims.

For instance, if you’re hiring for a specialized position such as an engineer or doctor, you’ll want to verify their education and credentials thoroughly. In contrast, a simple confirmation from the educational institution or a diploma copy may suffice for entry-level positions.

Social media checks

In today’s digital age, it’s easy for employers to examine candidates’ social media profiles to assess their character and dependability. This action, along with its online reputation, ultimately reflects the business’s brand image.

While social media screening is not an overarching rule, it can be beneficial to ascertain moral conduct in line with an organization’s ideologies. It can also safeguard against any potential risks that could arise from hiring someone who may not align with the company’s values.

Reference check

Finally, reaching out to references provided by the candidate can provide valuable insights into their past job performance and character. However, it’s essential to be mindful of any potential biases from personal connections or previous employers who may not give an honest assessment.

It’s helpful to ask open-ended questions that allow for more detailed responses rather than just yes or no answers. You could ask things like, “Can you tell me about a time when this candidate faced a difficult situation and how they handled it?” This can give you a better understanding of the candidate’s skills and abilities.


Hiring can be long and exhausting, but it’s necessary, and you don’t want to cut any corners. You should always conduct them as they are a crucial step in ensuring the safety and success of your business.

You can’t be too cautious when finding the ideal candidate for the job. Taking the extra step to conduct a thorough background check is a smart decision that your organization and employees will appreciate.

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