Common Types Of Background Checks In HR
Background checks, also known as pre-employment screening, have long been conducted by companies in various parts of the world as a means of verifying the professional, personal, and educational claims of prospective candidates.
While it is legal for Canadian employers to carry out background checks, they must have valid reasons for doing so. They are also required to notify the applicant that such checks will be carried out during the hiring process and explain what kind of information will be screened. The employer must also receive written consent from the applicant before carrying out any background checks on them.
This article will discuss the importance of background checks in HR as well as some of the common types of checks used by companies.
The Reasons for Background Checks in HR
Background checks are essential to the recruitment process and are an integral part of an organization’s risk management. These checks assist HR in verifying the information on an applicant’s job application or resume, helping to determine whether they are right for the position. By identifying individuals who may present a threat to the security, safety, or reputation of their organization HR is able to make more informed decisions regarding the people they hire.
By sifting out candidates on the basis of factors such as criminality, employment history, or education, employers are more likely to avoid the risk of hiring under-qualified, unreliable, or potentially violent individuals who can have a detrimental impact on their business.
Types of Background Checks in HR
Although background checks will vary according to the needs of an organization, below are some of the most common types of checks carried out by HR departments.
- Criminal Background Check
A criminal background check will reveal whether an applicant has a criminal conviction or has been charged with a crime. Such checks are not always necessary and employers do have a duty not to discriminate against an individual based on a previous conviction. In general, criminal background checks are only required when hiring candidates who will be working with vulnerable people such as young children, the elderly, or the disabled.
- Credit Check
A credit background check is generally only necessary in circumstances where an applicant would have the opportunity to commit theft or fraud. This may be relevant in industries such as banking and finance. Such checks can reveal information on an individual’s financial behavior such as a history of bad payment, insolvency, or bankruptcy helping HR to establish whether an applicant is financially responsible and trustworthy.
An employer can refuse to hire an applicant based on their credit history, however, due to the fact that a credit check reveals the age of an applicant they are not permitted to carry out such a check until they have made a conditional offer to the applicant as they may be deemed to violate the Human Rights Code on the basis of age discrimination.
- Education and Qualification Checks
Education and qualification checks are essential in establishing a candidate’s ability to successfully meet the requirements of the role they are applying for.
HR departments will seek to verify the educational credentials of prospective employees to ensure they attended the academic institutions and received the qualifications they have stated in their application. Such checks are conducted by contacting schools, colleges, and universities to verify an applicant’s attendance and by requesting copies of qualifications such as diplomas or degrees.
- Employment Reference Checks
Employment reference checks are a common part of the hiring process and help HR to verify the information provided by the applicant regarding their previous employment and commonly includes information such as the duration of employment, salary, job title, and the reason for leaving.
Such checks enable HR departments to assess the suitability of a candidate for the role they are applying for.
- Social Media Background Check
In today’s digital age, HR departments are also beginning to check the online public profiles of applicants on various social media channels. Such checks are legal under Canadian law and can help employers establish whether the character and beliefs of candidates align with the values of their organization.
While background checks serve a valuable function for HR departments they should ensure they are conducted in a way that does not violate any human rights or privacy laws.