In many job positions, especially those in education, healthcare, and the government, running a criminal background check on new hires is mandatory. However, a criminal background check is just one step in the overall background check process done before hiring. Other background checks include verifying education, past employment, qualifications, and other checks like drug & alcohol testing or a credit history search. Each company sets the background check policy according to the job requirements. For example, for a driver, it’ll be important to check their motor vehicle & driver’s record and do a drug & alcohol test.
But you don’t just get a criminal background check for a new job; it is also needed for promotions, legal actions, foreign adoption, volunteering, and applying for licensing like a medical or real estate license.
What is a criminal background check?
A criminal background check is searching an applicant’s criminal record for felonies, misdemeanors, arrests, pending cases, or any other crimes and violations. It is the most common factor in an employment background check. The background check can be at a county, state, national, or federal level, depending on the job. Even though some of these searches overlap, they are different and will show you different results. A state background check will find arrests and crimes within the county and state level while a federal background check will show violations against federal laws. Some of these checks even run a search through the sex offender registries, the department of motor vehicle records, and global and local watch lists.
GoodHire stated that 82% of employers that run background checks are looking for anything in the criminal record that conveys the candidate could pose a threat or danger to their customers and work environment. Criminal background checks may differ from one state to another because each state has its own regulations. For example, felonies may differ in meaning and punishment from one state to another.
What are the advantages of a criminal background check?
- Protect your business, employees, and customers by creating a safe work environment; by running a criminal background check, you avoid hiring someone with convictions for fraud, theft, or embezzlement in financial positions or hiring a teacher that is a registered sex offender. Do not hire someone that is a potential threat or danger to your employees by thoroughly checking their criminal history.
- Reduce liability by avoiding negligent hiring; if an employee was sexually harassed, subjected to workplace violence, or something was stolen, your business will be accountable for this. Negligent hiring can lead to legal costs and lawsuits, which could be a great loss to your business and it would also ruin your business’s reputation.
- Improve the quality of your hires by curating a well-picked team for your business that will help increase your business’s success, maximize productivity, and induce positive morale in the workplace. You can even mention in the job post that there will be a background check down the line so that only transparent applicants that don’t have anything to hide apply to the position; surround yourself with employees that are honest and trustworthy.
- Many small businesses neglect running background checks on new hires because they think it’ll be too expensive, consume time, and it’s not something they care about. However, not picking your hires carefully can lead to trouble in the long run when they find out they’re not qualified or have a criminal record that could hurt their business. The money and time they’ll put into interviewing, hiring, and training someone new will only increase.
And finally, are they a waste of time?
HireRight conducted a recent survey that showed 85% of employers catch their applicants lying or exaggerating during the pre-employment interview process. But what if you don’t catch them? Then you’ll probably have to deal with all the consequences we’ve mentioned like lesser qualifications, a threat to the workplace, financial loss, and finally rehiring.
Running a criminal background check is one of the most important steps in the background check process, but the other background checks also matter so taking your time to find top talent and hiring someone trustworthy the first time isn’t a waste of time.
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