Employee Background Check & Screening

The Ultimate Background Check & Screening Guide for 2024


Read this guide to find out how to do an employee background check before you hire someone, and discover amazing tips to develop an effective background check policy.

Conducting a background check for employment purposes is an essential tool for almost all businesses. Background checks can help assist in selecting the best possible candidates for your organization.

Now, raise your hands if you have any of these questions:

  • Why should you consider employee background verification?
  • What areas should you consider checking?
  • How does it work?
  • How to choose the right vendor to do it for you?

Let’s help you find the right answers!

We’ve created this employee background check guide to help you reduce hiring risks and improve the process. In this guide, you will learn:

Section 1: What Is an Employee Background Check?

An employee background check is a process a company uses to verify that a person really is who they claim to be. Background checks provide an opportunity for someone to check a candidate’s criminal record, education, employment history, and other past activities.

Identity frauds, educational frauds, etc. are no secret these days. It requires a robust process to be sure of hiring the candidate you really are.

As The Balance Careers says:

“Background checking is the process of authenticating the information supplied to a potential employer by a job applicant in his or her resume, application, interviews, and references. In most application processes, lying about their background and credentials will keep the employer from hiring the applicant.”

Validating all information and claims before hiring anyone is the key to solving the problem in the long run. Once every organization makes it a point that verifying credentials is a part of their hiring process, people will make sure they get an authentic new hire.

Since you are screening an individual for hiring purposes, you cannot simply run a search for a job candidate on the Internet. 60% of employers conduct background checks during the hiring process.

Check out our most advanced background check tool, SpringVerify, to make hiring faster, easier, more accurate, and lower risk.

Section 2: The Importance of Employee Background Verification and Screening

Conducting background verification for employment purposes is an essential tool for businesses. Background checks can help assist in selecting the best possible candidates for your organization.

Why do you need to conduct background checks?

The #1 reason for conducting background checks is to avoid job fraud.

Image source: SHRM

Background verification plays a crucial role in making better hiring decisions. 84% of employers continue to derive significant benefits from background checks.

53% of applications or resumes submitted by candidates to hiring managers contain at least one inaccuracy or lie. 

84% of employers continue to derive significant benefits from background checks. (Source)

Prospective job candidates who are not properly screened can negatively impact your organization. For example, an individual who misrepresents their education or work experience may not produce high-quality results.

An organization can lose $17,000 on average, says CareerBuilder, for a wrong hire or hiring someone with a false degree. The recruiting team doesn’t have any tool which could help them in mitigating it. 

You should never solely base a hiring decision on their review of a candidate’s social media profile. Tailor the screening process to reflect your industry and the jobs for which you hire. Companies that do not run background checks risk potential legal liabilities and other safety issues.

Section 3: 5 Common Background Verification Misconceptions

Many employers and employees have misconceptions about background checks, resulting in a hiring or application mistake. Let’s look at some common misconceptions:

Myth 1: All Background Checks Are the Same

Fact: No two background checks are the same. All candidates aren’t required to pass every type of background check before your company hires them. Each position has its requirements. For example, driving records may be relevant to field reliable salespeople and taxi drivers, but not to hire office employees.

Myth 2: A Criminal Record Means No Hire

Fact: Most candidates and employees think that a criminal record means they won’t get hired. Not all arrests lead to a conviction. Having an arrest on their record is not proof of guilt. 

Though background screening may get at each detail from an individual’s past, there may handily be a clarification that doesn’t ponder your candidate’s character inadequately. The bottom line is that a criminal record doesn’t automatically mean No Hire.

Myth 3: Only Big Companies Can Afford Background Checks

Fact: Whether you are a Fortune 500 corporation, a medium-size business, or a small business, an employee background check is crucial. Small and medium-size companies could not afford to hire the wrong candidates. Hiring the wrong team is a top reason startups fail. Bad hires can cost a company much more than background check service.

Myth 4: Background Check of Candidates Is a Time Taking Process

Fact: How long a background check will take depends on the extensiveness of the search, length of records, location of records, and local laws. Employee background verification tools like Springverify, on average, take 30% less time than the competition.

Myth 5: Job Applicants Are Powerless

Fact: Job applicants think that they don’t have any power when it comes to background checks and employers hold all the cards. Some employers also think those applicants are powerless. 

But a background check cannot be carried out without the applicant’s permission. The employer is also supposed to explain to the job applicant if they decide not to hire them. An applicant also gets a copy of the background check report and can even challenge the report.

Section 4: How Does Employee Background Verification Work? (Types of Background Checks and Screening)

This section talks about the complexity of background checking. It outlines the many sources of information that must be consulted to do the job right. 

Here you will find 15 different background checks for different situations:

1. Candidate History

Employers run pre-employment background checks to avoid hiring someone who could be a liability to the employer or pose a threat to the workplace. An AuthBridge report revealed that one in every six candidates lie on their resumes.

No wonder the background check discrepancy levels shot to 48% in 2018 from only 10.29% in 2016 in India. An employment background check typically includes the candidate’s work history, educational qualifications, driving record, medical history, and criminal record.

  • The candidate has to be notified in writing about the background check. This document is separate from the employment application. 
  • The applicant must provide written consent for the background check. 
  • If the pre-employment check is compulsory for hiring, the business must state it clearly in their written policies. 
  • The employee has the right to be notified about checks being conducted about their reputation, lifestyle, history, or character. 

2. Criminal Background Checks

Criminal record checks are among the most widely used background screening tools, but they also happen to be one of the most complexes and misunderstood.

The two main categories of crimes include serious crimes and minor crimes. As an employer, you must define what your organization values and where to draw the line when screening employees and making hiring decisions.

An individual’s criminal history affects not only a company’s safety but also job performance and qualification. If you are hiring a stock manager who handles inventory and funds (the job requires a high level of trust), it’s important to see if the individual has ever been charged with theft or fraud.

One thing is certain—criminal record checks are helpful in making more confident, informed hiring decisions.

3. Credit Background Checks

Also known as a credit report card, it is a standard requirement by banks when applying for a credit card and car or home loan. The credit background screening helps in verifying the record of a person’s credit-to-debt ratio.

A credit report includes information about an individual’s financial activity. This report indicates whether a job candidate has paid their bills, taken out loans, filed for bankruptcies, and more.

For some jobs in the finance industry, where fraud and embezzlement are possible, conduct a credit background screening. 

Further, when a business rejects a candidate based on their credit report, they are required to give a specific reason, along with the contact details of the credit reporting company that shared this information. This way, in the case of misinformation, the applicant gets a chance to correct it before the hiring decision is made. 

4. Identity Verification

Identity verification is the most basic form of information that all employers should request from their new and existing employees. Identity research confirms that a job candidate is actually who they claim to be.

With access to 200+ million court records across India, many companies have developed their in-house AI and ML-powered search algorithm. The technology is so precise that it can pick a needle from the haystack.

Therefore, to see what employers or banking professionals see when they run a background check, individuals can screen themselves. This exercise helps them check where they have lived and worked and if their name appears in any public litigation database, both criminal and civil.

Simultaneously, it is illegal for the employer to ask about age, race, ethnicity, disability, marital status, and pregnancy during an interview or a background check. Protected information cannot be used to influence employment decisions. 

5. Professional Licence And Certifications

When the job applicant is a doctor, realtor, or accountant, background screening verifies if he possesses a valid license to protect the employer from negligent hiring claims. 

The background screening company typically contacts the state licensing board to verify the license hasn’t expired or lapsed and is in good standing. Sectors that majorly run a professional license background check include:

  • Home contractors, including electricians, builders, and plumbers.
  • Education, including college professors and administrators.
  • Banking and insurance.

Before obtaining the records of the profession of the hire, the business has to ask the candidates for permission about: 

  • Education records – several schools and colleges either reveal these records to the student or the employer with signed proof of the candidate’s approval. 
  • Military records – as an employer, you require written consent to know about the applicant’s rank, salary, duty assignments, and awards.
  • Disability records – To access the medical records, the potential employee requires the candidate’s permission to access the medical records. The goal is to ensure that the employer’s hiring decision is influenced by the candidate’s ability to perform specific tasks. 

6. Reference Checks

The most commonly misrepresented information on a résumé is education and experience. Many influential figures have provided false information on their CV. The ex-CEO of Yahoo, Scott Thompson, embellished his college education details and was terminated by the company after four months. (Source)

Reference checks are a tried and true technique for screening job candidates. What better way to determine if the candidate is a good fit than to speak with a former supervisor or manager?

It enables employers to speak with former supervisors and managers to reveal candidates’ strengths, weaknesses, and overall performance.

7. Address verification

Address verification is mandatory to track the candidate’s previous addresses. Finding out a candidate’s place of residence makes it easier to check other tests and may reveal jurisdictions where a criminal background check should be carried out.

For carrying out correspondence with the employees in pre-hiring and post-termination phases. This could cover sending out offer letters, application forms, or final settlement documents and dues. In certain cases, it may be useful for sending out legal notices.

8. Employment verification

The employee background check looks at the candidate’s past. On the contrary, these inspections last for 7 or 10 years. It checks the candidate’s previous employment, education, credit, criminal record, medical records, etc.

You will need some candidate information to run this sort of background checking. 

  • name,
  • current address
  • date of birth
  • social security number (SSN),
  • and the consent of the candidate.

9. Education Verification

Education verification is mainly used to confirm the level of education indicated in the applicant’s application and the origin of that education. 

In this background check, the educational claims made by an applicant are verified. This part of the education verification process includes verification of the school or universities attended, the period of the academics as mentioned by the applicant, and degrees (Bachelor’s or Master’s) earned.

10. Court record check

As the number of insolvents and the rate of fraud increase, full control of employees will not be complete without a court record check. A court record check will be carried out to verify whether the candidate has been convicted or convicted by Indian courts.

Court record verification includes a database held in civil courts, family courts, criminal courts, and many other circuit courts.

11. Global database verification

A global database verification is a process of checking global and country-specific databases to verify if a candidate has been involved in fraudulent or criminal activities. 

For example, an inspection of the database may identify whether the applicant was involved in organized crime or whether he or she has a risk related to legal, reputational, or compliance aspects. A database check shows and warns employers of any critical misconduct by the applicant in the past.

12. Social media verification

Employers should consider doing social media verifications and checking posts from potential employees to learn more about them. However, there are several pitfalls to keep in mind before relying on information collected through an online social media search, such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. 

First, although it is possible to obtain useful but unverified information about a job candidate, care must be taken to ensure that the information is accurate. The information can help “round off” the candidate’s profile, but the usual background and reference checks are still necessary.

13. Drug test screening

Specific industries, such as driving or aviation, require periodic drug and alcohol testing. These tests are used to determine whether or not there is alcohol or illicit drugs in the human system. These types of tests ensure that your current or future employees are healthy, undamaged, and reliable in your company.

These inspections usually require a certain amount of notice and can only be carried out with permission. These drug screens are often treated as a five- or 10-panel urine test, a hair test, and a breathalyzer.

14. Passport verification

Passport validation helps organizations verify a candidate’s identity by validating the information in their passport. It does not control passport fraud but only violates personal data and the MRZ code. The MRZ (machine readable zone) contains the name, passport number, citizenship, date of birth, gender, and passport expiration date. There is room for additional, often country-specific, additional information.

  • To ensure that the person is claiming the correct identity
  • Ensure that personal data in the passport are not altered
  • To ensure that the MRZ is not compromised

15. DIN verification

A DIN (Document Identification Number) is a digitally generated number of a document that is issued to a taxpayer or relevant person in the form of notices or communications from CBIC officials. The use of DIN in such communication confirms its authenticity. 

For example, notifications/invitations are often issued through unofficial email IDs. The application of a document identification number ensures the authenticity of such notifications and protects the taxpayer from unnecessary harassment. Therefore, the taxpayer needs to confirm the identification number of the document before replying to the notification.

Recommended Post: Resume Verification: A Must in Your Hiring Process

Section 5: How to Proceed If Something Negative Is Found

If you are recruiting for a position and find that some credentials are false, you can afford empathy and talk to the candidate. Understand why this has happened and help them realize this is not acceptable. But rectifiable nonetheless.

The chances of you finding someone faking credentials at the brain surgeon level are close to zero. But you would find people faking it at other areas and levels.

First, be sure!

The first step, without a doubt, should always be to double-check the facts. Finding out if your source of information is legit about the fake credentials of a candidate is crucial.

You wouldn’t want to start a conversation and find midway that you were wrong about the situation. Embarrassing won’t cut it if you find yourself there. Be doubly sure!

Next Step: Talk to the Candidate. With Empathy.

We always encourage a conversation between the candidate and the employer to post every check. If the checks come out clean, the conversation would encourage the start of a professional relationship and team building.

And if the checks come out with red flags, the conversation is even more warranted. The discussion should revolve around how to correct the wrong and not around why it happened.

Try to understand why the candidate falsified the information and try to relate to any of your previous hiring conversations. This would help you bring in perspective and find the strengths of the candidate. It could be the persuasiveness of the candidate, or the diligence, or the effort.

Try to evaluate how the same candidate could fit in with the team keeping in mind the offense. Make sure you find a position you could offer, and then visualize if the candidate would fit in, with adequate checks in place.

Understand that if the candidate reached a stage of being hired, the merit is undeniable. And try to evaluate if a win-win scenario is possible here.

Section 6: How to Plan Employee Background Check Process and Policy

How to create and plan employment background screening and policy? Here are some points that you must consider as you proceed:

1. What report options are right for you?

To ensure legal compliance around discrimination, we recommend you screen all individuals and employees equally. Consult your corporate lawyer to help determine the right background verification plan for your employees and new hires.

2. What resources are available to you?

It is important to allocate the right time and resources to develop a robust background verification protocol for your company. 

Your company can hire a designated recruiter responsible for conducting all job functions around the hiring and background check process. Additionally, take the time to see whether a tool like SpingVerify is right for you.

Setting a Background Verification Policy

Creating a policy doesn’t have to mean lots of research, but it does mean that you should document who and what you will verify. 

This ensures that every time your company performs a background check, it is done consistently, and the information gathered is used appropriately for employment decisions. 

Policy elements 

Background checks may include: 


Step 1: Hiring managers must discuss whether a background verification is needed for a position and what the check will include.

Step 2: Government regulations generally require that you have a job applicant’s or employee’s advanced written permission to perform a background verification. It can be done through an Applicant Tracking System (ATS).

Step 3: If a candidate refuses to go through background screening, HR informs them that they won’t be considered for the position. If a candidate provides written permission, you can initiate the background verification.

Step 4: Once the company gets background check results, hiring managers must decide the candidates’ next steps and the position.

Step 5: Hiring managers ensure candidates get copies of their background check reports.

Step 6: If there are negative findings, hiring managers must let candidates know how to dispute the report.

Section 7: How to Get Started With Employee Background Verification

Before you implement an employee background check program, you must determine how your company will conduct it. Doing them yourself is complicated and time-consuming. Right?

And you go for a third-party background check provider. But the traditional employment screening services used by companies are time-consuming, costly, paper-heavy, and manual. What is the right background check service for you?

The good news!

We have built a background check software where verifications happen seamlessly and with minimal effort from both the company and the employee – SpringVerify.

SpringVerify is the modern take on employee verification’s age-old problem being costly, tiresome, and out of reach for small businesses. Let’s talk about this background check platform:

The SpringVerify Process

We use technology and automation to reduce the complexity of every step in the verification process.

Checks like ID verifications and court record verification happen seamlessly within minutes using the latest OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technologies.

The remaining verification processes like address checks, education history checks, and employment history checks are all handled on priority by dedicated SpringVerify agents.

Here’s an overview of the seamless SpringVerify process:

Buying Verifications: A firm, any company small or big, buys as many verifications as needed.

Easy Process Initiation: The human resources team uploads the necessary candidate information like name, email, and phone number.

Online Form Filling and Submission: The candidates are intimated to fill an online form where they are asked to upload their documents.

Verification Process Initiation: Verification Starts the moment forms are submitted. The ID verification takes minutes using sophisticated OCR technologies.

Dashboard Progress Tracking: The SpringVerify dashboard provides a complete overview of the progress. It shows timelines, any disparity in uploaded credentials, and the completed checks at any given point in time.

Detailed Online Report: Once the verification process is complete, a digital report is generated. Easy!

The SpringVerify Advantage Over Traditional Background Verification

Seamless: The SpringVerify process is user-friendly and requires minimal information and effort from both the HR teams and the candidate.

Agile: The use of technologies like blockchain and OCR helps shorten the verification time. Coupled with dedicated on-field agents, help us to get the verifications done at pace and with efficiency.

Transparent: The SpringVerify dashboard adds a layer of transparency to the process. At any given time, the HR teams could assess the progress of verification, add or remove candidates, see any disparity, and generate reports using it.


What does an HR look for in a background check?

An HR professional typically looks for several things in an employee background check – including, the criminal history of the employee, their employment verification, education records, reference checks, etc. These are a few crucial things are mandatory in order to ensure that you hire the right person for your job. Some optional fields also include driving records, license verification, etc.

What are some common practices to check in Employee Background Verification?

Here are some factors you need to include in your BGV process:

  • Drug screening
  • Criminal records
  • Education Verification
  • Reference check
  • Personal background
  • Credit score
  • Candidate history

How to verify current employment?

In order to verify the current employment, companies can ask for the full and final statement or the relieving/experience letter as a proof.

Can salary be verified in BGV?

Yes, salary can be checked in background verification. Again, it requires the full and final statement or the salary slip or pay stub of the employee.

What is the next step after the background check?

The employer might take a few days to review the BGV reports. If the BGV occurred before a confirmation, the next step is sending an offer letter to the candidate.

However, plenty of companies conduct the verification process after onboarding of the employee. In that case, this indicates that the job of the employee is safe and good to be continued.

What happens when BGV fails?

If and when the BGV fails, the employer can focus on discussing the situation with the employee. They need to be given a chance to explain the results.
However, no response from the employee can lead to the termination of the employment.