The Scope of a Background Check

A background check is a legal and necessary tool that helps your business mitigate risk, protect yourself from lawsuits, prevent negligent hiring and wrongful termination, reduce workplace violence, and make smarter hiring decisions. It is also a way for you to build a community of trust and transparency with your employees, contractors, customers, and others.

The Scope of a Background Check

A comprehensive background check should be tailored to your specific business and needs. This includes determining the scope and types of information you want to receive, as well as selecting a vendor. The scope of a background check should also be discussed with your legal team to ensure it meets your company’s compliance needs.

Criminal record checks, including misdemeanor and felony records, are one of the most common types of background checks employers conduct. These searches reveal a candidate’s past convictions, including arrests and charges, along with court proceedings and pending cases.

There are limits on how far back criminal records can be retrieved, based on state and federal law and regulations. The most common restrictions are seven years for felonies and five years for misdemeanors, but some states limit that timeframe even further.

Searching local, state, federal, and international records can reveal additional details about your candidate’s background, especially if they have lived or worked outside of the US. Depending on the type of check, these searches can include county or federal civil court proceedings, global watchlists, employment verifications, and education verifications.

Employers typically request that these searches return information for at least 7 years. While some of these reports can go as far back as 10 years, they’re more likely to focus on the most recent violations.

In addition to criminal history, these background check can provide insight into a candidate’s credit history and financial activity. This can help you determine if a candidate has a history of bankruptcies, tax liens, or other financial issues that could impact their ability to perform the job.

Motor Vehicle Reports, which look at driving records, are another type of background check employers commonly request. These reports show a person’s past violations of the laws in their state or jurisdiction and can include DUI convictions, traffic offenses, and criminal records from other states.

The process for conducting a background check is simple. Candidates sign an authorization, consent and disclosure form before providing their personal information to the background check vendor. Once the candidate’s information has been transferred to Checkr, they can review their results in a user-friendly dashboard.

When a candidate successfully completes the background check, they will be notified by email. The notification will include a link to view their report and instructions on what the next steps are for their review.

HR staff must then assess the background check findings as they relate to the position before making a final decision. If negative results are discovered, HR must then follow the adverse action process, which requires a thorough analysis of the report and a recommendation to the employer on how to proceed with a potential hire.