AccuSource Blog

How to Start Using Pre-employment Background Checks

Pre-employment Background ChecksThe hiring process is a lot like dating in the 21st century. You assume everyone on the latest dating app is embellishing at least one of their characteristics, and you hope it isn't the part about not having a criminal past.

Fortunately, our more technologically advanced, worldly hiring environment does not have to rely solely on a resume and interview to gain the whole truth about potential employees.

Enter the pre-employment background check.

This simple process, when conducted properly, helps HR managers see a more complete picture of the potential employee, including any important details the person may have left off of their application or out of their interview.

Criminal Record

The extent to which an employer can consider a person's criminal history in a hiring decision varies by state and employment setting. The scope of a criminal background search is individual to the employer.

One common practice is to check both a state's criminal database and the federal criminal database for any record of wrongdoing. Most criminal prosecution happens on a state level, however only checking a state's criminal database will fail to show any federal crimes that may have been committed.

This process still fails to take into account state crimes committed in another state or jurisdiction. This is why a national criminal background check, one which checks for crimes committed across counties, jurisdictions, states, and territories, performed in conjunction with a federal criminal background check is considered the gold standard.

Credit Reports

Investigative reports that have credit information are very different than the consumer credit reports that are pulled every time a person tries to borrow money.

Often used when the potential employee is applying for a security clearance, an investigative report is not used to evaluate a person's credit worthiness, but rather their character, reputation, lifestyle, honesty, and relationships.

This in-depth background check may contain information about the person's risk as far as their level of debt, but employment decisions cannot be made based on that information alone.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires an employee's consent to perform an investigative report and mandates that any information found over the course of an investigation be made available to the person in question.


Like a dating app, many people feel compelled to embellish their educational accomplishments in order to obtain a job. While the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act require a student or parent's permission to release transcript records, they can release dates of attendance, honors and awards, and any directory information the student provided while they were there.

A more detailed license verification background check may be necessary for jobs that require specific certifications for licence.

Military Service

While the military is often reticent to release detailed records about a person's military service, they will release name, rank, salary, awards, and duty status without the service member's consent.


While many people list references who will offer only glowing reviews of their past performance, many people are still under the impression that past employers can only confirm dates of employment and titles the person held.

While many companies have policies in place that prohibit managers from speaking out against their past employees, many unwittingly offer additional information in the process of verifying past employment.

Phrases like, "I have never heard of them," or "I'm surprised they added us as a reference" are telling of a person's character as well as the circumstances under which they leave their employers.

While the pre-employment background check process seems daunting and time consuming, it offers information a candidate may be reluctant to divulge that can have a profound impact on their experience with your organization.

It may seem like a full-time job to simply perform background checks, but it does not have to be something an HR manager does on their own.

Background checks are the perfect example of a task that can be outsourced to competent professionals who can obtain information by following appropriate legal channels.

Not only will the information be accurate, it will be obtained in a way that will allow the HR manager to use it in a hiring decision. Now if only online dating profiles came with the same type of service.



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