Background checks are critical components of the hiring process for many businesses. They help employers evaluate whether a candidate is a good fit for their organization, ensuring that they meet ethical and legal standards. In today's society, the increase of social media use and online activities makes background checks essential for all sorts of purposes. The main reason they are important is that they help prevent fraud and protect public safety.
The Importance of Background Checks
Background checks enable organizations to verify information provided by a candidate on their resumes or application forms. They also help reveal any criminal records or history of drug or alcohol abuse. By uncovering even the smallest details about a candidate's past, an employer can make an informed decision about their suitability for the role.
In addition, background checks are critical for ensuring that job candidates are trustworthy, responsible, and professional. When handling sensitive data and client information, employers have to ensure that their employees are qualified. It's vital in today's age that an organization takes extra precautions since anything can potentially be leaked on social media, so it's in the best interest of the company to know who they're hiring.
Also, background checks help protect the company and its other employees. Hiring a candidate with a history of fraud, theft, or violence could put staff, customers, or the public in danger of harm. Workplaces can avoid harmful situations by checking whether prospective candidates have ever been convicted of violent crimes like harassment or domestic violence.
Types of Background Checks
There is no "universal" background check that will tell you everything about a candidate's history. Instead, different types of checks provide different insights that can be used to determine if someone is in good standing. Some of the most common types of background checks include:
- Criminal Record Check: Checking the candidate's criminal record is often the most important part of a background check. It reveals any convictions, warrants, or charges that the candidate has faced in the past. A clean criminal record provides a good indication that the candidate is responsible and trustworthy.
- Employment Verification: Checking the candidate's employment history is another important part of a background check. It confirms that the candidate worked for the employers they claimed and validates their experience and qualifications.
- Reference Check: A reference check involves contacting the candidate's previous employers or business associates to verify the information provided by the candidate and to confirm that they were a good worker. References can also provide insight into the candidate's work style or other relevant aspects.
- Education Check: Educational background checks help confirm that the candidate has the necessary education and credentials for the job. An education check helps verify diplomas, degrees, and other academic achievements.
The Benefits of Background Checks
Background checks offer a range of benefits to employers, employees, customers, and the public. One of the most significant benefits is preventing fraud. Fraudulent behavior is costly, with businesses losing billions of dollars each year as a result of employee fraud. Background checks can help prevent fraud by uncovering any financial irregularities or criminal records that could indicate that the candidate may be prone to committing fraud.
Another benefit is keeping employees safe. Companies have a responsibility to protect their employees by providing a safe working environment. Employee safety is essential since it ensures that employees can work without worrying about their safety.
Lastly, background checks can also protect the public from potential harm. Background checks can help identify violent offenders or individuals with a history of drug or alcohol abuse who pose a significant threat to the public. They often work in industries that require trustworthy employees, like healthcare, transportation, and education, where risk is high.
There are numerous examples in which background checks have helped prevent fraud and protected public safety. One well-known example is the financial fraud case of Bernie Madoff. The Wall Street investor was able to run a $65 billion Ponzi scheme for over a decade due to a lack of background checks by his company. Background checks could have revealed a history of skepticism around Madoff's financial activities, which could have led to his discovery much earlier, and investors could have avoided any losses.
Another example of background checks at work is the case of Uber, which has been highly scrutinized over its hiring processes. Uber drivers undergo an extensive background check process, which has helped remove several drivers with criminal histories from its platform.
In September 2020, Elizabeth Holmes, founder and former CEO of Theranos, was accused of defrauding investors of millions of dollars. In a case examing Holmes, it was revealed that the Silicon Valley Healthcare company was a sham, and patients received incorrect analysis reports. The company was able to commit fraud because they hired faulty staff with unverified background checks.
Background checks are critical not only for hiring employees but also for protecting public safety and preventing fraud. With increasing cases of white-collar crimes, having a robust hiring process with background checks can help companies identify individuals with a history of fraud, violent crimes, or substance abuse, preventing them from posing a hazard. The employment process has significantly evolved, and it's up to organizations to adopt serious precautions and conducting thorough background checks not to put its employees, shareholders, and reputation at risk.