HR & Management

7 important recruitment background checks

5 min read

21 May 2018

HireRight’s EMEA 2018 Benchmark Background Screening Report found that 89% of HR and risk experts have seen candidates misrepresent information on job applications. So how well do you really know your future hires?

While background screening in the UK is widely used in sectors such as the financial services, its adoption throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) is far from universal. It is a way to verify the information provided by candidates on their applications.

These checks, conducted with the explicit consent of the candidate, must be proportionate to the role, respect the individual’s privacy, and be transparent about their data sources, as per the forthcoming Global Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Findings from HireRight’s report revealed the most widely used types of background checks, which are vital components of any background screening program. The percentage of survey participants whose companies perform each check is indicated next to the headings.

Employment history (83%)

Employment history checks verify that a candidate was working at the companies and in positions that they claim to on their CV or application form. The scope of this check varies from case to case – some employers will choose to verify only the most recent roles, whereas others will request verification for all positions held within a defined period of time, for example five years.

Failure to complete an employment history check could result in hiring of an under-qualified member of staff to your team, which could pose a number of threats to your company including financial and reputational risks.

Criminal record (69%)

There are three main criminal record checks that can be carried out in the UK: basic, standard and enhanced DBS checks – enhanced DBS checks can only be undertaken for specific roles where the candidate’s job would have contact with children or vulnerable adults. A criminal check is important because it permits an employer to assess if a candidate’s criminal record could pose a potential risk to the business.



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Academic and education (75%)

Education checks are used to verify a candidate’s academic background, checking the institutions, courses and grades listed on their CV or application. These checks are performed by contacting the institutions directly, with a request to verify this information. It is easy to embellish or enhance an academic record, as it can often go unchecked, so it is definitely worthwhile checking this information.

Identity document (67%)

Identity document verification is usually done by checking machine-readable passport details against the identity details provided by the candidate. In the absence of a passport, an ID card or UK driving license may be used – the eligibility of national ID cards varies from country to country.

Ensuring that a candidate is who they say they are is absolutely essential in the pre-hire screening process, as without this check, you don’t know who you are really hiring, at great potential risk to your business.

Employment qualification and membership checking (65%)

Employment qualifications and memberships are often checked to ensure that candidates have the skills and qualifications required for the positions that they are applying for. These credentials are checked at source, either by contacting the organisations directly or by online verification processes.

For certain roles, it may be a requirement that the applicant belongs to certain professional membership organisations, and by not checking these sources, your company risks hiring an unsuitable candidate.

Pre-employment credit (51%)

A pre-employment credit check verifies that a candidate is in good financial standing and highlights any adverse information recorded against the candidate, subject to the availability of information. Internationally, this is only possible in certain jurisdictions. This check is particularly important for roles within the financial services and may not be proportionate or appropriate for candidates in other roles.

Director background checks (not included in the survey)

Finally, an important part of screening for board level hires is a director background check. HireRight’s EMEA 2018 Benchmark Report revealed a worrying 26% thought it was possible people on their board had never been subject to a background screen. 

Steve Girdler, managing director at leading global background check provider HireRight