Your Guide to Completing Background Checks

Your Guide to Completing Background Checks

In some industries, it’s vital that you carry out a thorough background check on a candidate before you offer them the role.

For example, if the position involves working with children, patients or highly-sensitive documents.

However, sometimes businesses just want to be a little more careful in their recruitment process.

Which is hardly surprising, as making the wrong hiring decision can cost both time and money.

It can also have a detrimental impact on the reputation of your company and lead to unwanted lawsuits too.

If you’re new to the background check concept, or just want to make sure that you’re dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s, we’ve put together a handy guide of do’s and don’ts.

Check an applicant’s right to work in the UK

According to, every employer must check that an applicant is allowed to work in the UK before offering them a role.

If you can’t provide sufficient evidence to say that you’ve checked this part, you could be fined up to £20,000.


Never discriminate

You should never discriminate an applicant based on their personal identifying information.

Examples of this include not giving someone a role because of their racial or ethnic background, religious beliefs, sexual orientation.

To keep things professional and unbiased, we highly recommend you use third-party screening companies like Sterling Talent Solutions or your chosen recruitment agency to collect the necessary information which you need to know to make an informed decision.

Using a screening process tool can also give you vital information on whether an applicant is telling the truth or not on their CV.

However, it’s important that you don’t use it to start delving into their personal lives on social media, as this could be deemed as a form of discrimination if it impacts your decision.

When choosing the right candidate for your vacancy, don’t allow silly judgments to get in the way, including:

  • Tattoos
  • Job hopping
  • No degree
  • Their current location

All of these elements are either part of who they are or something that can be easily explained by the candidate in a face-to-face interview.

If you think you may struggle with this, either get a recruitment agency to help with the process or/and ask a current employee to offer an extra set of eyes during the interviews.

The exception to the rule is red flags like involvement in drugs and crime.

Medical issues shouldn’t be an issue

A medical part of an application should be used as a tool to help someone should you offer them the job, not a basis of making your decision.

However, it’s worth noting that you can only raise this information once you’ve made a conditional offer for the role or if you believe that it’s relevant to helping a candidate attend an interview.

You can only ask a candidate to complete a health check before hiring them if the said job requires it or it’s a legal requirement.

For instance, an eye test is essential if you’re looking to recruit a pilot.

As a rule of thumb, always let a candidate know about any required checks in your offer letter and only carry it out once they’ve given you written consent in the form of a signature.

Be upfront about your checks

It’s always recommended to state your background check procedures in the job description and then reiterate the message in any screening tests or interviews.

If you don’t, you could find that some candidates may pull out half-way through, which will waste valuable time and resource.

This can include anything from running a few basic credit checks for financial roles to a DBS check to ensure that a candidate is safe to teach children.

If an applicant fails these tests, you should give them a reason why.

Although, if your business doesn’t need to check an applicant’s criminal record, it’s actually against the law to refuse to employ them because of spent convictions.

You can learn more about ex-offenders and employment here.

Be doubly sure

Mishaps can easily happen.

So if your HR team are carrying out the background checks in-house, we always recommend that you get an impartial recruitment agency like us to check it again for you.

It’s also worth asking a candidate to check their credit file is up to date and accurate before you start the process, as this can help to reduce any issues further down the line.

Be thorough when handling data

As you’ll be well aware of by now, GDPR requires your business to keep all applicants’ data secure.

Before running the background check, you should ask candidates if they are happy for you to keep their information on file, whether they’re successful or not.

You must then safely discard this information after six months to reduce the impact on your business, should any breaches occur.

Things to remember

Hopefully, this little guide has given you a good starting point or reminder on how to carry out background checks and when it’s appropriate to do so.

If you’re still not 100% on any of it, it’s always worth asking a recruitment agency to help you out with the process.

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