Pre-Employment Background Checks: Everything You Need to Know

By Jordhi FarhansyahPublished 10 Oct, 2023 Last updated 20 March 2024

One of the things that every HR needs to do in recruitment process is to do pre-employment background checks.

HR can use pre-employment background check to gather some information about candidates. This process can be helpful for the company because you know what to expect about the candidates.

A pre-employment background check itself is a process through which employers investigate and verify the background information provided by job applicants.

The purpose of this check is to ensure that the information presented by the candidate is accurate, assess the individual’s qualifications, and mitigate potential risks associated with hiring.

The extent and nature of background checks can vary depending on the employer, industry, and the position being applied for.

But, it’s important to note that conducting background checks is subject to privacy laws, and employers must obtain the candidate’s consent before initiating these checks.

Additionally, employers should be consistent in applying background checks to avoid potential discrimination issues.

Pre-employment background checks contribute to creating a safer and more informed hiring process, helping employers make well-informed decisions about their prospective employees.

Components of pre-employment background check

pre-employment background checks

Components for background checks can vary in each company’s policy. For example, if someone wants to work in a government related job, they can do an extensive background check to make sure there’s nothing suspicious about that certain someone.

Here are common components of a pre-employment background check that company can cross check on new recruits, especially in Indonesia.

Criminal history check 

Employers should check whether or not candidates have a criminal record. This process involves checking the candidate’s criminal record at various levels, including local, state, and national databases.

Employers typically look for any convictions that may be relevant to the job.

Employment verification

Typically, employers should also verify the accuracy of the candidate’s employment history, including positions held, dates of employment, job responsibilities, and reasons for leaving previous positions.

This can be done by asking the previous employer or ex coworkers about his work history and behavior.

Educational verification

Employers confirm the educational credentials listed by the candidate, such as degrees, certifications, and diplomas, to ensure that the applicant possesses the required qualifications.

Credit history check

In some industries, especially those related to finance or positions involving financial responsibility, employers may check the candidate’s credit history to assess financial stability and responsibility.

Reference checks

Employers contact the provided professional and personal references to gain insights into the candidate’s work ethic, character, and suitability for the job.

Social media screening

Employers may review a candidate’s public profiles on social media platforms to gather additional information about their character, behavior, and professionalism.

Even though 54% of employers have eliminated a candidate based on social media, it’s important to note that judging someone based on social media background checks is not an ethical thing to do.

Employers should bear in mind that social media alone can’t be the deciding factor whether or not recruiting certain candidates.

But if employers found out through social media that the candidate is a problematic person and have been involved in criminal activity, for example harassment, then that’s another story.

Drug testing

Some employers require candidates to undergo drug testing to ensure a drug-free workplace. This is common in industries where safety is a primary concern.

Driving record check

If the job involves driving, employers may check the candidate’s driving record to assess their history of traffic violations and accidents.

Professional license verification

For jobs that require professional licenses or certifications, employers may verify the authenticity of the candidate’s credentials.

Tools and methods for effective pre-employment background checks

Effective pre-employment background checks involve the use of various tools and methods to gather comprehensive information about a candidate’s qualifications, work history, and character.

Here are common tools and methods used in the process.

Background check companies

Background check services: There are numerous online platforms and companies that specialize in providing comprehensive background check services. They aggregate information from various databases, including criminal records, credit reports, and employment history.

Criminal record searches

Local, state, and national databases: Accessing criminal records at different levels ensures a thorough check. Some countries have centralized databases, while others have separate databases for each jurisdiction.

Verification services

Employment verification services: Third-party services can be hired to verify a candidate’s employment history, including positions held, dates of employment, and reasons for leaving.

Educational verification services: Similar to employment verification, these services verify the candidate’s educational credentials.

Social media screening

Social media platforms: Employers may manually review a candidate’s public profiles on platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to gain insights into their professional background, character, and behavior.

Social media screening tools: Some companies use specialized tools that automate the process of reviewing social media content, flagging potential red flags or compliance concerns.

Drug testing services

Drug testing kits: Employers may use drug testing kits or services to check for the presence of drugs in a candidate’s system.

Professional license verification

License verification services: These services verify the authenticity of professional licenses or certifications, ensuring that the candidate possesses the required qualifications.

Court records

Online court databases: Accessing online court databases allows employers to check for civil and criminal court records, providing additional insights into a candidate’s legal history.

Checking credit score

Credit reports: For positions involving financial responsibility, employers may use credit reporting agencies to check a candidate’s credit history. FOr example, in Indonesia you can access credit score via OJK’s website.

Pre-employment background check in Indonesia

Typically, the procedure in Indonesia is more or less the same like some of the methods mentioned above, which are the following:

  • Education and previous employment check
  • Criminal record, often times candidates were asked for SKCK from Indonesian National Police
  • Reference check
  • Narcotics and illegal drugs test
  • Social media check
  • Medical check up, although this was done by the candidates themselves to make sure that they don’t have any medical issues that might increase their risk when doing certain jobs.

Legal considerations

Performing pre-employment background checks involves legal considerations to protect the rights of job candidates and ensure compliance with relevant laws and regulations.

Here are key legal considerations when conducting background checks.

Candidate consent

Employers must obtain written consent from candidates before conducting a background check. The consent form should be clear, specific, and separate from other application materials.

Provide candidates with information about the nature and scope of the background check, including the types of information to be gathered.

Compliance with anti-discrimination laws

Adhere to anti-discrimination laws to avoid discriminatory practices in the hiring process. In this case, Indonesia has Law Number 40 of 2008 concerning the Elimination of Racial and Ethnic Discrimination.

Background checks should not disproportionately impact candidates based on protected characteristics such as race, gender, religion, age, or disability.

Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) compliance

This applies for companies in the US. If using a third-party background check company, comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which regulates the collection and use of consumer credit information for employment purposes.

Notify candidates in writing that a background check may be conducted and obtain their authorization.

Provide candidates with a copy of the background check report and a summary of their rights under the FCRA if adverse action is taken based on the report.

Accuracy of information

Take steps to ensure the accuracy of the information obtained in background checks. If adverse action is taken based on the background check, provide candidates with an opportunity to dispute inaccuracies.

State and local regulations

Familiarize yourself with state and local regulations regarding background checks, as they may impose additional restrictions or requirements. Regulations can vary significantly between jurisdictions.

Use of social media

If considering social media screening, be cautious to avoid violating privacy laws. Avoid requesting access to private social media accounts and focus on information that is publicly available.

Data protection and privacy laws

Comply with data protection and privacy laws that govern the collection, storage, and processing of personal information. This is especially relevant in regions with stringent data protection regulations, such as the European Union under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Confidentiality

Handle background check information with confidentiality. Limit access to this information to individuals involved in the hiring process and ensure that it is securely stored.

One of the things that sometimes incompetent HR does is spreading candidates private information on social media. This should be avoided.

Adverse action procedures

If adverse action is taken based on the background check, provide candidates with a pre-adverse action notice, a copy of the background check report, and information about their rights to dispute inaccuracies before making a final decision.

Adhering to these legal considerations helps organizations conduct background checks responsibly, ensuring a fair and compliant hiring process while protecting the rights of job candidates.

It’s advisable for employers to consult with legal professionals to stay informed about relevant laws and regulations in their jurisdiction.

Benefits of pre-employment background checks

Pre-employment background checks offer several benefits to employers as part of the hiring process. Here are some key advantages:

Enhanced hiring decisions

Background checks provide additional information about candidates, allowing employers to make more informed and objective hiring decisions.

This includes verifying the accuracy of resumes and assessing the candidate’s qualifications and experience.

Reduced hiring risks

By checking criminal records, credit histories, and other relevant information, employers can identify potential risks associated with hiring a particular candidate.

This helps mitigate the risk of workplace misconduct, fraud, or other issues that may arise.

Workplace safety

Background checks contribute to a safer work environment by identifying candidates with a history of criminal activities that could pose a risk to coworkers or company assets.

This is especially crucial in industries where safety is a primary concern.

Protecting company reputation

Employers have a responsibility to create a safe and secure workplace. Conducting background checks helps ensure that employees with a history of dishonesty or unethical behavior are not hired, which can protect the company’s reputation.

Regulatory compliance

Background checks help organizations comply with industry-specific regulations and legal requirements.

For example, certain industries, such as finance or healthcare, may have strict regulations regarding employee qualifications and suitability.

This, in turn, can contribute to lower turnover rates.

Protection against negligent hiring claims

If an employee engages in harmful behavior, and the employer did not perform due diligence through background checks, the company may be more vulnerable to negligent hiring claims. Background checks can be a proactive measure to protect against such legal risks.

Verification of professional credentials

Employers can verify educational backgrounds, professional certifications, and licenses claimed by candidates. This ensures that individuals possess the required qualifications for the position.

Reduced workplace theft and fraud

Background checks can identify candidates with a history of financial issues or dishonesty, reducing the risk of workplace theft or fraud.

Increased trust among employees

Employees may feel more secure and trust their employers knowing that the company is diligent about vetting individuals before bringing them into the organization.

Conclusion

So that’s some of the components that need to be checked when doing pre-employment background checks. It is an important step in the recruitment process to make sure employers get high quality and competent talents.

While pre-employment background checks offer numerous benefits, it’s important for employers to conduct these checks ethically, transparently, and in compliance with relevant laws and regulations to protect the privacy and rights of job candidates.

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Jordhi Farhansyah
Penulis yang selama 2 tahun terakhir fokus memproduksi konten seputar HR dan bisnis. Selain menulis, sehari-hari Jordhi juga aktif merawat hobinya di bidang fotografi analog.