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Why pre-employment background checks are important


How well do you know the man standing next to you in the elevator. Or the woman sitting next to you during the Monday conference call? How well do any of them know you?

You have a vested interest in making sure your employees have the skills they say they have. Finding out too late that an employee concealed certain facts could have a lasting, negative impact on other employees, your customers and your bottom line.

As an employer committed to creating and sustaining a healthy workplace culture, you want your employees to be confident that they’re working alongside people they can trust.

The very first step you can take to strengthen and preserve that trust are thorough, professional pre-employment background checks for job applicants.

Why pre-employment background checks are important

The purpose of a background check isn’t to try to catch an applicant in a lie. Some people might forget all the places they’ve lived in the last seven years or the number of jobs they’ve held in the last five years.

The purpose of the check is to get a comprehensive and clear picture of the person you want to join your company.

Finding the right fit

Do they fit with your culture? Will they get along with their co-workers?

If they have a few problems in their past, discussing those issues during the hiring process is often a better indicator of their character than a dozen standard interview questions.

But the hiring process is the best time to exercise caution and be circumspect about a candidate’s history.

You spend thousands of dollars to hire, on-board and train new employees. Getting the right person the first time will not only save you time and money, it will also establish a track record with your employees to trust that your process is effective the next time a new person joins the team.

Safety first

The first goal of any business is to ensure a safe workplace. Employees should feel confident they can come every day and effectively do their jobs, and customers should be reassured that doing business with you is the correct choice.

A business that fails to maintain a safe working environment may not be in business for very long.

Routinely revise your procedures and policies, and inform employees of what is expected of them.

For example, establish rules for employees not to use their cell phones when driving on company business to keep the employee, other employees and other individuals safe and protect your organization from lawsuits caused by distracted drivers.

5 types of pre-employment background checks

There are many kinds of background checks you can select from.

You should base the depth of each probe on the job description for which the candidate is being considered.

The more responsibility, the more important it is that you have a candid representation of the candidate’s background and that they can be trusted with those responsibilities.


You’d be wise to do a criminal background check for all potential employees. This is essential for the safety of your current employees, your customers and your financial security.

A person convicted of a violent crime raises serious concerns, but a criminal background check goes beyond that.

It will also reveal if the applicant has been convicted of an economic crime. This is particularly important information if you were, for instance, going to add that person to your accounting department.

Driving history

This is a must for any candidate who might be driving a company vehicle or asked to drive on company business.

A history of violations may not be disqualifying if the candidate has gone several years without any infractions, but from a legal liability perspective, it’s information you need to consider.


If a candidate says they have a degree in accounting, architecture, etc., this check will confirm that degree.

You can decide, based on the position you are trying to fill, if you need to verify they have the proper education to fulfill their duties.


Similar to education, this gives you information into whether your candidate holds current credentials to be a lawyer, nurse, electrician, etc.

This search might also reveal any disciplinary matters they’ve encountered.

Employment history

Like education, this is optional. However, a background check that includes verifying previous employment history will confirm that the candidate’s resume and job history are accurate.

For instance, if they claimed to hold a supervisory role at a previous job, and that is important for the role you are considering them for, verifying their previous employment history may confirm their most recent job title but may also reveal discrepancies or even intentional dishonesty in their resume.

However, it’s unlikely that it will confirm all previous job titles with the same employer.

A worthwhile investment

Background checks aren’t cheap, but they’re an investment worth making.

The more in-depth you go, the more you will spend. You must weigh your budgetary constraints against potential legal liability and in-house headaches when choosing how much to invest in background checks.

At its core, pre-employment background checks can save you time and money in the long run.

To learn more about background checks and other key aspects of the recruiting and hiring process, download our complimentary magazine: The Insperity guide to attract, recruit and hire top talent.