Can You Do Background Checks on Potential Employees?

Often the job hiring process can be a nerve-racking one for both employee and employer.

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Senior Accountant
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Often the job hiring process can be a nerve-racking one for both employee and employer. One of the tools that can help to lessen the tense nature of hiring for employers is a background check.

Some people wonder if an employer can do a background check on potential employees. We’ll answer this question, while also focusing on different aspects of the background check process.

Informing Employees


To answer the overarching question, you can do a background check on potential employees. When an employer decides to conduct any number of searches on a potential employee, they are doing this for a number of reasons. As an employer of a private company, you want to check an applicant’s work history, education, experience, and criminal history. You can do this through a variety of means, including searching public records and criminal records. When you conduct such research, it allows you to search for any omissions on an applicant’s employment application. You want to hire someone who you can trust to be forthcoming with their entire background, and a background check can assist you with doing this.

When you’ve decided to do a people lookup, you must inform your applicant that you’re conducting such background research. Just as you trust your applicant to be forthcoming on their application, you are required to do the same before doing any background checks. Your employee should be aware that as a part of your people search that you are looking into public records, employment history, and criminal records. Advise the employee that these searches will just be done to verify facts about your background. You shouldn’t be conducting searches into their character when performing employment background checks. Just focus on any employment issues that might have arisen at their former place of employment. Keeping a prospective applicant informed about a background check is essential when going through this process.

Getting Legal Advice

When performing background checks as a potential employer, it’s best to follow any legal advice offered by your lawyer. You want to ensure that you are staying within the confines of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). You also don’t want to break any state laws when it comes to employment discrimination practices as you conduct your background checks. Work with an employment attorney to receive legal advice about how to conduct such background checks.

You need to do your best to stay within the confines of employment law. These lawyers bring years of legal experience and can help you to wade through the employment law of your state. Since conducting such background checks can reveal sensitive information about an applicant, in some cases, you can’t gather certain information. This will vary from state to state, so it helps to find employment attorneys who can help you to wade through a state’s laws on conducting background reports. Though performing background checks is legal, seek out the advice of employment attorneys with years of experience before going through the process.

Clearing Misunderstandings


There are opportunities where it’s best to get something cleared up from the applicant. Sometimes the information that you receive through background reports can be incorrect. No system is perfect. In cases like these, it can help to seek some type of clarity on the discrepancy from a potential employee. Maybe in the background report, you found a discrepancy in the person’s name.

After speaking with your applicant, you find out that they changed their last name after going through a divorce. In another case, the property information listed in the background report doesn’t link up with a current residence. Once you speak with your employee you find out that they’ve recently moved to a new location. Simply speaking with an applicant and clearing things up can be helpful overall when conducting a background check.