Image of person on laptop and pre-employment checks
min read

A Guide to Employment Checks



Employment background checks are an essential part of the hiring process for organisations. 

A pre-employment check will either confirm that the candidate is a good fit or reveal something disappointing. 

In this blog, we will cover:

  • Common types of pre-employment checks
  • Data privacy and compliance laws
  • Candidate consent

Why conduct pre-employment checks?

Organisations must be confident of who they hire. 

Some sectors that cater to vulnerable communities need more attention while hiring. 

Work environments where remote working is the way forward now more than ever require employers to verify candidate information. 

Employment checks ensure the following:

1. The candidate is the right fit for the job

Hiring managers want the assurance that they can trust the candidate they are hiring. It’s essential to check that job applicants have the right qualifications and ability to perform in the role. 

2. Avoid the wrong or a bad hire

A major reason to conduct background and reference checks is to avoid hiring someone with a history of workplace violence. It also reveals if the candidate is the right fit for the team and organisation.

3. Ensure proper due diligence is conducted

As hiring remote staff and working from home becomes the new normal, you need to do your due diligence on who you hire.

13 Types of employment verification checks:

A background, employment or pre-employment check is the term given to a process where a recruiter verifies relevant details about a candidate. Candidate information could include the person’s identity, criminal records, and education or employment history. 

There is no standard background check; it may vary depending on the organisational need and the filled role. 

While there are many types of employment verification services, the most commonly used checks by companies are listed below:

  1. Background identification check 
  2. Criminal record check
  3. Credit financial check
  4. Employment history checks
  5. Education verification
  6. Police check
  7. Professional membership check
  8. Traffic and License check
  9. Social media check
  10. Work rights or Visa checks
  11. Working with Children check
  12. Watchlist check
  13. Workers compensation check

What is involved in the different background checks?

Let’s understand the different types of employment checks that can be used as due diligence for a hiring decision:

1. Background identification (ID) check

Background Identification (ID) checks are a way to check a candidate’s background information. It includes previous education, employment history, credit history, and any relevant criminal history. 

2. Criminal record check

Employers do criminal background checks to avoid hiring candidates who have engaged in workplace violence. 

​​Employers generally use third-party service providers whose business is to conduct background screening. These providers are well equipped and experienced to conduct thorough and accurate background screening.

3. Credit financial check

Credit checks are required for candidates applying to positions that involve financial responsibility. Credit reports help an employer determine if an applicant is a risk in situations where handling money is involved.

4. Employment history check

Employment history checks are CV checks done to validate the information provided by the candidate. 

Hiring managers usually contact previous employers to verify:

  • Dates of employment
  • Job title(s)
  • Duties performed
  • Circumstances of separation

5. Educational verification check

Education verification is conducted to verify a candidate's educational and professional certification claims. 

Recruiters can run this check for any level of education, including high school, colleges, universities, and professional certifications or licenses. Such checks help determine if a candidate has graduated from the schools they claim. 

6. Police check

Police checks verify if the candidate has engaged in workplace violence or has any kind of criminal history. 

7. Professional membership check

These employment checks are conducted with the appropriate professional body. The objective of professional membership checks is to ensure that the licenses claimed by the candidate are both accurate and current. 

8. Social media check

A social check identifies a candidate's online presence to look for negative or risky behaviours such as:

  • Inappropriate photographs, videos or information
  • Discriminatory comments on race, gender, religion etc
  • Information that contests the information on the candidate’s CV
  • Derogatory posts about a former employer
  • Illegal or offensive behaviour

9. Traffic and license check

Traffic and license checks determine the job applicant's driving history. A driving record could include traffic violations, suspensions, revocations, the type of license granted, and restrictions on use. 

A motor vehicle record will typically list traffic violations and arrests.

10. Visa and work entitlement check

Citizen and residency checks confirm that the candidate is a citizen, permanent resident, or temporary visa. The objective of this check is to ensure that the applicant has valid rights to work in a country. 

11. Working with children check

A Working With Children Check (WCC) is a requirement for anyone who works for volunteers in child-related work.

12. Watchlist check

Companies do watchlist checks to check for known or suspected terrorists, money launderers, frauds. 

13. Workers compensation history check

A worker compensation history check is conducted by prospective employers to check if the candidate has any pre-injury (psychological or physical) from previous workplaces. 

FAQs related to Pre-Employment Checks

What is a background check?

Background checks verify facts shared by the candidate. This could include information on education, employment history, credit history, or criminal record.

What is a reference check?

A reference check is the only stage in the recruitment process that leverages the opinions of someone other than the candidate. A set of questions is presented to a  previous supervisor or co-worker who provides feedback on the job applicant. 

This process is useful as a verification tool, but it also adds value to the hiring process with additional insights for the management of the future employee.

Background checks and reference checks: What’s the difference?

Reference checks and background checks go hand-in-hand in the hiring process. While reference checks and background checks are both crucial steps in the hiring process, they’re different. 

Background checks verify specific details of the applicant, and reference checks obtain insights from previous employers about the future employee.

There could be some overlaps in terms of information gathered. Both background and reference checks could verify employment history.

When should you conduct an employment check?

Recruiters conduct employment checks before the offer to the candidate is made. 

In circumstances where this is not possible, an offer can be made conditional to a satisfactory pre-employment check being completed.

Why do organisations need to verify and reference check their candidates?

With many businesses now operating with remote teams, reference checking ensures you have key insights about your potential new hires. 

A reference check offers the perfect opportunity to access insights about their capabilities before you make an offer.

Do recruiters need to take a candidate's consent before conducting a check?

Consent and privacy laws are different in different countries. 

In most cases, you need to obtain consent from candidates to undertake pre-employment checks. 

Every country has different laws in terms of compulsory checks depending on the profession or role. 

Be aware that some applicants may be reluctant to have their current employer know that they are applying for another job.

How to obtain pre-employment verification checks?

There are many easy to use software services available for pre-employment verification checks. Online software providers can help you conduct these checks quickly and with ease; some examples are mentioned below: 

What is data privacy?

Data privacy is the branch of data security that requires proper handling of information gathered from employment checks. 

Having strong privacy policies creates trust and significant benefits for the reputation of any organisation. 

Through the employment verification process, a large amount of candidate data is collected, managed, and stored by HR teams. Companies that care about data compliance assure candidates and referees that their data is safe.

Why are HR Teams responsible for data privacy?

An HR department needs to ensure that its data sharing has a strict set of controls and policies. Data privacy concerns often revolve around:

  1. How data is legally collected or stored.
  2. Regulatory restrictions such as GDPR, APA, PIPEDA. 

You may want to note that these laws may be applicable regardless of the country you’re operating in. For instance, you could be based in the United States and still be affected by GDPR. For more information, you could read our blog on security and compliance.

General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR

GDPR is the core of Europe's digital privacy legislation. 

GDPR is a set of rules designed to give EU citizens more control over their data.

GDPR ensures companies are transparent with how they handle personal data for citizens or residents of the European Union. Organisations require to have a legitimate purpose for using personal information.

Australian Privacy Act

Protects the handling of personal information includes collecting, using, storing, and disclosing personal information. 

Personal Information and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) in Canada

All businesses operating in Canada and handling personal information crossing provincial or national borders are subject to PIPEDA. 

The Act ensures adequate protection of personal information. 

Organisations covered by PIPEDA must generally obtain an individual’s consent when collecting, using, or disclosing personal information. 

People have the right to access the data held by an organisation. They also have the right to challenge its accuracy.

These laws aim to protect personal data through a wide range of data privacy and security requirements. 

Such regulations have proved beneficial in creating standards of right and wrong usage of data. 

Final thoughts:

There are many types of background checks available. Only some may apply to your organisation depending on the sector or role. In today’s digital world it is very easy to have access to these verification services from providers that offer these checks.

A hasty hiring decision can be costly; it’s advisable to take the time to conduct due diligence. If you’re on the fence about investing in reference checking software,  try Xref for free to see how it works. 

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