Conducting a background check: 4 things you need to know

Matt Tarpey

Running a background check can sometimes feel like walking a tightrope: It’s important to be able to verify a candidate’s experience and credentials, but it’s just as important not to violate a candidate’s privacy or allow biases to affect hiring decisions.

So it’s not surprising that job seekers – and even many employers – are often confused about what a background check entails. Some think of it simply as a criminal history check. In reality, a background check is much more than that. It’s the process by which employers verify information provided by the candidate and seek out relevant information they may have left out. Employment screening is a very important piece of the puzzle. After all, the average cost of one bad hire is reported to be nearly $15,000.

According to a CareerBuilder survey outlining myths about background checks, not all companies or workers understand the screening process, and may underestimate the importance of doing screenings. To help you tell fact from fiction, here are four common myths regarding background checks, along with the facts debunking them.

Myth 1: Background checks aren’t always necessary

Reality: Ten percent of employers said they made a bad hire because they didn’t conduct a background check. Given the cost of a bad hire, this can be an expensive misstep.

Myth 2: All background check systems are created equal

Reality: Thirty-seven percent of employers made a bad hire because they received bad information about the candidate, according to a 2019 CareerBuilder survey. Thirteen percent of employers say they’re at risk of litigation because of low quality information they received from a background check. Make sure your provider keeps up with compliance standards, is accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) and ensures the candidate is informed and supported.

Myth 3: The background check comes after the hiring process is completed

Reality: While most employers choose to request background checks on candidates after they’ve presented the job offer, that doesn’t mean your work is done. Sixty percent of workers say they continue looking for other jobs even when an offer has been extended and they’re going through the background check process.

Myth 4: Background checks typically take one to two weeks

Reality: The longer the background check takes, the higher the risk of losing the candidate. Fifty-nine percent of candidates say they’ll wait less than 10 days for an employer to finish their background check before moving on to another opportunity, and 19% will wait less than one week. Typically, background checks should return in less than five business days, but on average, checks take 24–72 business hours to complete.


Why should you run background checks on job applicants?

Here are five good reasons to make background checks a standard part of your pre-hire process:

  1. To provide a safe workplace for employees and customers
  2. To hire the most qualified people who will help to grow your business
  3. To minimize exposure from employee liability by practicing due diligence in the hiring process
  4. To encourage honesty in the application and interview process
  5. To eliminate uncertainty in the hiring process

Are you overwhelmed by the choices for background check providers? Here are 4 things to look for when choosing a background check provider.



Previous Guide
Enhanced Employment Screening Creates a Better Candidate Experience
Enhanced Employment Screening Creates a Better Candidate Experience

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