Background checks are a crucial part of the hiring process. Those background checks today may look different than background checks of the past, they’re still a useful tool for employers. Background checks may range from formal criminal record or driving record checks to social media checks. In general, the types of checks conducted on a potential employee depend on the nature and level of the position. More sensitive positions require more sophisticated background checks. Working with children, handling money, or driving a company vehicle are just a few job duties that may require specific background checks.
The following background check methods are some of the most common to be used by today’s employers.
Public Record Checks
Some of the most standard searches involve public records. As an employer, you may approach the county courthouse, the local police, and the state correctional department to ask them to run a background check on the individual in question. County records may yield legal documents such as marriage licenses, divorces, deeds to property, and arrests. Police departments can offer information about criminal activity, and can use checks to identify local sex offenders, as well as those from other jurisdictions. Finally, state correctional departments may also offer information about sentences served.
References & Personal History
It’s common for employers to ask interview candidates to provide detailed information about their academic and employment history, along with two to four professional or academic references. Family members and friends are sometimes acceptable as references, but it depends on the employer and the type of information he or she is seeking. Employers can contact references and academic institutions to follow-up on these details, verifying them as needed.
Employers trying to get an in-depth view into a potential employee’s past may wish to hire a private investigator. Private investigators are professionals capable of collecting a wide range of data about a given individual. It’s their job to try to get a feel for the person’s character by speaking to a variety of sources close to the individual and collecting any existing records and data that describe the person’s past activity. This kind of information is more likely to be sought-after when the nature of the work is extremely sensitive. Government and security positions may require an extensive background check conducted by a private investigator.
Online and Social Media Searches
These days, it’s easier than ever to find information about a given individual online. Typing the candidate’s name into a search engine may yield a number of results, including links to his or her social media and networking profiles, personal websites, past publications, conference participation, participation on discussion forums, etc. It is now common for employers to use tools such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to screen potential employees. Though some consider this an invasion of privacy, employers may feel they have a right to access it. These kinds of sources often offer information that is more likely to be personal in nature, such as relationship status, hobbies, and interests. But certain networking sites also offer detailed work history, testimonials, and endorsements of skills and work experience.