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Employee Background Check Questions

In today's world, taking someone's word for anything is akin to shooting yourself in the foot, more so when it comes to hiring employees without doing a background check. In this Workspirited article, we tell you how to perform a background check, and also give you a list of questions that you should ask your prospective employee.
Tilottama Chatterjee
It's only natural to want to make sure that the person you hire is what he actually says he is. After all, someone who enters a company is likely to be able to access a lot of confidential data, so it's in the company's interest to ensure a person is trustworthy before he's offered a place as an employee. Employee background check is an important task that a recruiter must take into account in the selection process. A person's reputation in a previous company can give you a good deal of information about his or her work ethic. To ensure that there is an unbiased review, it would be sensible to speak to several people so that petty differences or dislikes don't give you a prejudiced opinion. Running a complete background check isn't only a matter of routine, it is common sense―whether you're hiring a prospective babysitter, or a managing director. The role of references is to give you a sneak preview into a person's true character.
How to Carry Out a Background Check?
When dealing with or formulating a set of reference check questions, it's important to identify the purpose of the questionnaire. Essentially, a background check, or background investigation, is an investigative process, often carried out by a third party. It involves looking into the financial, commercial, and/or criminal records of a prospective employee. As an employee, most selection procedures will involve the filling up of forms that ask for previous records, if any, and it is in your best interests to divulge any information that is likely to come up in a background check. However, sometimes, these checks may amount to being intrusive, digging up information that may have nothing to do with the job that you're applying for, so you need to know where to draw the line. Following are some factors that employers need to take into account:
Certain jobs, especially those involving work with the physically challenged or senior citizens, require background checks by federal law, essentially for the protection of the people in care. Moreover, jobs that involve working with children also require extensive criminal background checks, in the interest of preventing child abuse.
As an employer, a background investigation is the only way to ensure that the information being supplied by the prospective employee is correct. This relates to educational qualifications, work experience, as well as reasons for leaving a previous position―among the top criteria that most human resource people will consider during recruitment. This reduces the risk of fraudulent information being the basis of hiring.
An employee's actions can largely affect the reputation of the company, and have been known to bring about lawsuits as a result of negligent hiring. As a recruiter, a selection process that includes several reference checks, reduces the chance of hiring someone who could potentially harm the company and cost it millions of dollars in lawsuit settlements.
Suggested Reference Check Questions
The following is a list of details that a job applicant may be asked for during the process of recruitment. Note that this list is an indication of possible questions in a background check and is not comprehensive. The job applied for and the company's policies will decide the final investigative procedure.
  • Driving and vehicle records
  • Educational qualification records
  • Citizenship, immigration or work permits
  • Medical records
  • Credit records
  • Social security number
  • Criminal, arrest records
  • Court records
  • Employment records
  • Drug tests
  • Pending litigation records
  • State licensing records
  • Military records
  • Personal references
Following questions can be used as a guideline to form a format of questions that will constitute a reference check:
  • For how long did (name) work with your company?
  • What was (name) designation?
  • What was (name) role and key responsibilities?
  • What was (name) last drawn salary?
  • What were the reasons for (name) resignation?
  • Would you describe (name) as a team player?
  • Was (name) promoted while he was working with your company?
  • Would you rehire (name) should the opportunity arise?
  • How successful was (name) as a (designation)?
  • How was (name) perceived by his subordinates?
  • Is there anything you would like to tell me in relation to (name)?
As a recruiter, you may find yourself wondering how to do a background investigation on someone. To begin with, there are a number of sites that offer a free online criminal background check. In addition, many government agencies will keep information with regards to public records which can be accessed by a prospective employer. Also, there are private agencies that take on the responsibility of running reference checks, and should your company have a particular format of employee background check questions, they can be communicated to the agency that has been hired. In this age of terrorist attacks and corporate espionage, it's no wonder that companies have no other recourse than to thoroughly conduct a background check before inviting new recruits.