Background Checks

Master the Art of Background Checks: A Step-by-Step Guide

  • February 27, 2024
  • Christy Clifton
  • Approx. Read Time: 7 Minutes
6 Easy Steps to Maximize Your Background Checks

One of the most effective tools for preventing bad hiring decisions is background checks. These screenings can uncover potential issues with employment, such as criminal records, poor driving histories, and inaccuracies on job applications. 

As beneficial as background checks can be, it’s also important to create a written policy that ensures a fair, unbiased process. This step can protect your company from compliance issues and potential lawsuits from unhappy applicants who feel they were treated unjustly. 

Because compliance is vital and the background checking process can be time-consuming, many organizations choose to work with a background screening company. A professional background check company, like Cisive, can provide comprehensive and accurate results. 

These services can help you make faster, smarter hiring decisions for your company. Here’s a look at some of the key factors pertaining to background checks. 

    • Applicant background checks can uncover potential issues that could hinder on-the-job performance. 
    • Your candidate background screening process must comply with all governmental regulations and industry standards. 
    • Professional background screening companies can provide faster, more accurate results to speed up the hiring process and improve recruitment outcomes. 

With the real costs of a bad hire ranging as high as 21% of the position’s salary, it’s more important than ever for employers to make smart hiring decisions. This factor is one of the many reasons organizations make comprehensive background checks a crucial part of the recruitment process. 

This how-to guide for background checks provides tips for maximizing the use of these screenings in your organization. 



Key Takeaways 

        • Comprehensive background checks can help you avoid costly bad hire mistakes. 
        • While the background checking process can screen for various pieces of information, you should tailor it to meet the specific needs of your company. 
        • Start by developing an applicant background screening policy that can ensure consistent, unbiased results. 
        • Your background screening process should comply with all governmental and industry standards and regulations. 
        • Working with a professional background screening company, like Cisive, can save your company time while providing more accurate results.  


Table of Contents 

  1. What Are Background Checks? 
  2. What Should Be Included in a Background Check? 
  3. How to do a Background Check 
  4. Use a Trusted Provider to Screen Your Employees 


What Are Background Checks? 

Background checks for employers involve screening applicants to verify the information on their application and ensure there are no other issues with the candidates. Employers may also conduct background checks on current employees they’re considering for promotions or new positions within the company. 

Many employers use background checks during the final stages of the recruitment process. For example, background screenings are often done after a conditional job offer is made but before the official onboarding process begins. 

With a recent study revealing that 70% of applicants lie on their resumes, conducting background checks is crucial. It can help you identify candidates who don’t have the required experience, skills, and qualifications or who might not be a good fit for your company. 

While employers can conduct internal background checks, many choose to outsource these tasks to a professional background check company that specialize in these services. This option can provide faster, comprehensive reports that offer more accurate results. 


What Should Be Included in a Background Check? 

There is no set list of factors that you must include in a background check. Instead, each organization must evaluate its specific needs and develop a custom plan that incorporates the factors that are most important to the company and the role in question. 

Here’s a look at the most common factors employers include in their pre-employment background checks. 

    • Verification of basic information, including name, address, and Social Security number 
    • Criminal background checks
    • Civil court history, such as court judgments and claims 
    • Consumer credit report 
    • Driving record 
    • Drug screening 
    • Past employment verification 
    • Education verification 
    • Social media profile check 
    • Health care sanctions check 
    • International background check 


How to Do a Background Check 1


How to Do a Background Check 

Conducting background checks can be a complex process, whether conducting them in-house or working with a professional background check service company. It’s important to have a plan in place before you start screening applicants. 

Below is a look at several steps you can take to create a strategy for screening prospective candidates. 


1. Be Communicative With the Job Candidate 

Some states require employers to notify candidates about their background-checking options during the application process. However, even if your state doesn’t have this requirement, it’s a good idea to let the applicants know as soon as possible that you may run a background check as part of the hiring process, including identity verification, employment history, consumer credit reports, driving records, education verification, and more as applicable.

If the job requires a clean background check, be sure to include the information in the job posting. For example, if the applicants need clean driving records or no criminal history, let this be known right from the start. 

This provides transparency and can prevent candidates who may not be able to pass a background check from applying in the first place. This can speed up time-to-hire rates and improve hiring outcomes. 


2. Research Any Relevant Regulations 

Any employer using consumer reports to screen candidates for employment must adhere to the Fair Credit Reporting Act

First, this act requires you to notify candidates before conducting any type of background check. Secondly, you must notify the applicants if any information in the background check report could prevent you from hiring them and give them time to respond before making a final decision. 

Many states have additional rules and regulations that employers must adhere to when conducting background checks. For example, some states regulate when in the hiring process, employers can conduct background screenings, while others dictate how many days candidates can take to respond to employers. 

It’s critical that you understand the applicant background screening regulations impacting your area to ensure you remain in compliance. Otherwise, you could risk hefty fines and penalties or even set yourself up for a potential lawsuit for unfair hiring practices.   


3. Create a Background Check Policy 

Before you even conduct your first background check on a potential new hire, you should have a set policy in place. This background check policy should include everything from the type of factors you want to screen to what to do if a candidate fails a background check. 

When creating a policy, take the time to evaluate the company’s goals, mission, and values, as well as the requirements of workers in your industry. This step will help you create a background screening process that aligns with your company’s brand messaging. 

It’s equally important to ensure all aspects of your policy are compliant with all industry, state, and federal requirements. 

Having a plan in place ensures consistency and creates a fair, unbiased process for the candidates. 


Screen smarter, hire safer. Get the right talent to drive your success. Speak to an expert.


4. Find a Trusted Background Check Service 

Conducting background checks can be extremely complex and time-consuming. A lackluster screening may not uncover the information your organization needs to make sound hiring decisions. 

For these reasons, many companies choose to work with a trusted background check service company. This step can provide comprehensive results and improve the accuracy of the screening. 

Additionally, working with a third-party vendor can remove any bias in the process and help ensure compliance. These professional companies stay up to date on the latest rules and regulations pertaining to background screenings and ensure their practices are upgraded if necessary to remain compliant. 

Most importantly, working with a professional screening company can alleviate some of the pressure on your team, who may not have proper training in background-checking practices. A good background check provider will have thorough knowledge of applicable laws (such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act) that guide a consumer reporting agency.


5. Review the Screening Results 

If an applicant fails a background screening, it doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t hire them. 

Instead, take the time to review the results of the background check. Compare the responsibilities of the job in question and determine if the issues uncovered on the background check could impede their performance on the job or put the company at risk. 

If you consider rescinding a job offer due to the results of a background screening, the FCRA requires you to notify the applicant through a pre-adverse action notice and give them time to respond. The average waiting time for a response ranges from 5 to 10 days, but some states dictate how long you must wait. 

If the candidate responds to your letter, take the time to review this response along with any documentation provided. This information may help clarify any errors noted on the background screening report or explain any potential issues. 


6. Select Your New Hire 

Now that you have all the information in hand, including the comprehensive background check and the candidate’s response, reevaluate your options. If necessary, conduct an individual assessment to make your final determination. 

If you still decide to rescind the job offer, you must send the candidate a final adverse action notice. This is a legal requirement and can help the candidate better understand why they weren’t a good fit for your company or the role. 


Use a Trusted Provider to Screen Your Employees 

As a professional background check service company, Cisive offers comprehensive applicant screening services. We work directly with employers to create a customized screening process that meets their specific hiring needs and ensures compliance. 

We pride ourselves on offering accurate screening results. In fact, our background checks are 99.9994% accurate, and we’ve never faced a class action lawsuit in our 40 years in business. 

Cisive’s comprehensive solutions include everything from criminal background screening and current driving reports, credit history, to fingerprinting and drug testing. We also provide ongoing criminal monitoring


Master These Six Steps for Screening Success

When it comes to applicant background screening, the most important step is to create a written policy that dictates the company policies and procedures. This lets you create a fair, consistent process that meets all governmental and industry standards and regulations. 

This background check how-to guide is a good place to start. However, due to the complexities involved in the background checking process, working with a professional candidate screening company can provide better and faster results. 

At Cisive, we work directly with our clients to provide the comprehensive, accurate results they need to make informed hiring decisions. 

Contact Cisive today to speak with an expert for more information or to schedule a consultation. 

Screen smarter, hire safer. Get the right talent to drive your success. Speak to an expert.


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