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What Is Background Checking?

Definition of Background Checking

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Background checking is the process of authenticating the information supplied to a potential employer by a job applicant in his or her resume, application, and interviews. In most application processes, lying about background and credentials will keep the employer from hiring the applicant. Background checking ensures the employer that the candidate has the background and experience he or she claims.

Additionally, if it is determined at a later date through a background check, that an employee lied about credentials, qualifications, experience, education and so forth, the employer may fire the employee. This assumes that the employee signed a statement attesting to the truth of his or her provided information.

Common background checks include:

  • verification of academic credentials;


  • verification of prior employment including position, longevity, salary, and job performance, sometimes tracing back ten years or to the three prior positions;


  • discussions with business, professional, and personal references and verification of letters of recommendation;


  • drug screens and occasionally, physical exams;


  • testing to confirm skills and knowledge;


  • an Internet search, on the candidate's name, especially at Google.com to confirm an individual's claims about their jobs, performance, awards, and more;


  • criminal background checks; and;


  • especially for accounting and finance professionals, credit checks.

Background checking is usually conducted by Human Resources professionals, but occasionally, the supervisor of the position being filled assists, especially with reference background checking.

Additionally, background checking of people who are candidates for the same job should be the same. A clear connection should exist between the background checks conducted and the requirements of the job or of basic employment.

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