Criminal Background Checks: What Employers Need to Know

In November 14, 2016

In this day and age, employment struggles are prevalent enough that many employers have made background checks a normal part of the employment process. Whether you’re dealing with a small or large applicant pool, ensuring you’re hiring the most qualified individuals while keeping your integrity and actual safety in mind is an important part of the process.. It’s becoming more and more common for potential employees to submit to a background check for employment purposes, a pattern that can help employers hire intelligently.

What does a background check entail?

For applicants, especially those in the younger generations, a background check may seem unnecessary. When thinking of background checks, most people assume it’s for criminal history. While those records do come up, so do civil records, education and employment history and even references, as well as workers compensation history. The top background check companies for employers are not only going to keep your company safe through criminal checks, but they’re also verifying critical information regarding the work and educational history against the applicant’s resume.

When conducting a pre-employment background check, there are generally two phases. The first phase takes place when a potential employer calls references and speaks with previous employers. When speaking with references, there are state regulations regarding what employers can and can’t ask when doing background checks. Generally, an employer can ask your previous employers anything about your work history they want (each state carries different regulations). Your previous employer however, can only answer based on state law. Once a potential employer has sufficient information from an applicant’s previous employers and references, it’s time to move on to the second phase, the criminal background check.

How to choose the right background check service:

There are two options when it comes to choosing which type of background to conduct. Employers can pay for self-service background checks that allow them to search sites online and retrieve information manually, but the results are fairly instant. Employers can also pay a third-party, or a full service background check company to do the entire service for them. Generally, hiring a company is more efficient, thorough, and they are well regulated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). They take on the responsibility of maintaining the professionalism and are able to conduct a wider search for potential applicant history.

Frequently asked questions about background checks:

  • Does an applicant have to give consent before  a background check can be run by the potential employer – Yes, the potential employer must  obtain applicant consent before running a background check as regulated by the FCRA.
  • How long does a background check take – Generally, background checks take less than 24 hours, but can sometimes take 2 -3 business days.
  • How much does a background check cost – Depending on the depth of the check and the company whose services you choose to utilize, background checks can range anywhere from $15 to several hundred dollars.
  • Are military records included on background checks – Service and former service members have a right to privacy when it comes to their service records. Service member consent is generally required for military records to be released.


Applicants and employers should know that background checks are an important  step in keeping the workplace safe and ensuring business integrity. In order to hire the quality applicant a potential employee appears to be, an easy background check can add an extra level of security and honesty to your business. If you’re a job applicant on your way to an interview, it’s best to anticipate having things like certified vital records, as well as at least two forms of ID available. In this day and age however, it’s a good idea to also assume you’ll be asked to complete a full background check. Just remember, if you’ve made it to the background check step in the process, you’re close to having the job!

Leave A Comment