Recruitment Terms & Definitions

What is a background check?

A background check is a process where an employer investigates and verifies the information provided by a job candidate. The primary purpose is to ensure that the candidate’s qualifications, experiences, and personal history align with what they have presented during the hiring process. Here are some key elements typically covered in a background check:

Employment history: Verification of the candidate’s work history, including job titles, dates of employment, and responsibilities.

Education verification: Confirming the educational qualifications claimed by the candidate, such as degrees, diplomas, or certifications.

Criminal history: Checking if the candidate has a criminal record. This is usually relevant for positions that involve a high level of trust or security.

Credit history: Some positions, especially those in finance or requiring financial responsibility, may involve a credit check.

Reference checks: Contacting previous employers or professional references to gather insights into the candidate’s work ethic, skills, and overall suitability for the job.

Social media screening: Checking the candidate’s online presence on platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter to ensure their public image aligns with the company’s values.

Drug screening: In some industries, candidates may be required to undergo drug testing as part of the background check.

Background check definition

A background check is a comprehensive review and verification process that employers undertake to assess the accuracy of information provided by a job candidate. The goal is to confirm the candidate’s qualifications, employment history, education, and other relevant details. This process helps employers make informed hiring decisions, ensure the integrity of their workforce, and mitigate potential risks associated with a candidate’s background.

Key components of a background check may include checking employment history, verifying educational credentials, investigating criminal records, assessing credit history (in certain cases), contacting professional references, and examining the candidate’s online presence through social media. The extent and nature of background checks can vary depending on the industry, the specific requirements of the job, and legal regulations.

It’s important to note that conducting background checks requires the candidate’s consent, and the process should adhere to privacy and anti-discrimination laws. Employers typically use third-party services or agencies to perform background checks, and the results contribute to the overall assessment of a candidate’s suitability for a particular role within the organization.

Background screening definition

Background screening refers to the process of investigating and verifying a person’s background, typically conducted by employers during the hiring process. The aim of background screening is to confirm the accuracy of information provided by job candidates and to assess their suitability for employment based on various criteria, including their criminal history, employment history, educational qualifications, and other relevant factors.

Background checks vs. background screening

The terms “background check” and “background screening” are often used interchangeably, but they differ subtly in scope and depth. A background check typically refers to a specific investigation or verification of a candidate’s background information, such as criminal history, employment history, or education verification. It may involve one or more aspects of a candidate’s background and is commonly conducted as part of the hiring process to verify the accuracy of information provided by candidates and assess their suitability for employment. On the other hand, background screening is a broader and more comprehensive process that encompasses multiple aspects of a candidate’s background, including criminal history, employment history, education verification, reference checks, and other relevant factors. It aims to provide a comprehensive assessment of a candidate’s background, character, and suitability for employment, emphasizing a systematic and structured approach to evaluating candidates’ qualifications and credentials.

When to do a background check?

A background check is typically conducted during the later stages of the hiring process after a candidate has gone through initial interviews and has been selected as a potential hire. The exact timing can vary depending on the company’s policies, industry practices, and the specific job role. Common points in the hiring process when background checks are performed include the conditional job offer, pre-employment screening, and before the start date.

When to do a background screening?

The timing of when to conduct a background screening can vary depending on factors such as organizational policies, legal requirements, and the nature of the position. However, it is generally advisable to conduct background screening after the initial stages of the hiring process, such as after the candidate has undergone interviews and received a conditional job offer.

How long does a background check take?

The duration of a background check can vary based on several factors, including the complexity of the check, the information being verified, the responsiveness of third-party agencies, and the specific requirements of the employer. On average, a background check typically takes anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.

How long does a background screening take?

The duration of a background screening can vary depending on several factors, including the complexity of the check, the availability of information, and the responsiveness of third-party verification sources. In general, background screenings can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks to complete.

While employers aim to complete background checks efficiently, it’s crucial to balance speed with accuracy. Rushing the process can lead to oversights and errors. Clear communication with the candidate about the expected timeline helps manage expectations and ensures a smooth and transparent hiring process. Employers should also be aware that unforeseen challenges or delays may occur, and building some flexibility into the timeline can be beneficial.

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