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Do Background Checks Depend on the Position Being Filled?

By Michael Klazema on 2/4/2020

Does the extent of an employee background check vary depending on the job at hand? The answer is “Yes.” Jobs involve different duties and responsibilities and require different skills, education, and experience levels. To ensure that they are vetting candidates based on these nuanced differences, employers adjust their background check strategies to suit the position that they are trying to fill.

Most employers devise employee screening policies with criminal history checks as the foundation. Criminal checks are the most common type of background check and the least likely to change from one job to the next.

In some cases, an employer may delve deeper into a candidate’s criminal history, such as for a position that involves an unusually high level of responsibility. Federal background checks are more detailed depending on the level of security clearance at stake. Other employers may ramp up their criminal history checks from beyond local county searches to include state repositoriesmulti-jurisdictional databases, and other county searches based on the candidate’s address history.

Often, the most significant differences in an employee background check from one job to the next are related to checks that don’t involve criminal history. The reason is that certain background checks are intended to find information that will only be relevant to certain employers.

Driving record background checks are critical for any position that involves operating a motor vehicle, from UPS delivery driver to long-haul trucker to ambulance driver. These checks are typically irrelevant for a job that doesn’t involve driving, such as a server position at a sit-down restaurant. There isn’t a strong reason for employers to invest in driving record background checks if they aren’t going to discover any information that is relevant to the job at hand.

Financial institutions may put considerable weight into credit history to assess a person’s financial responsibility. Most other employers have no need to uncover that information. Education or professional license background checks are only necessary for positions for which those credentials are either desired or required by the employer, or mandated by law. Drug tests may be legally required for some jobs but not for all jobs.

Many different factors influence the types of background checks that employers should or must conduct. Ideally, each employer should take the time and care to design an employee background check policy that takes legal requirements, job responsibilities, and company values into account.

If you are interested in understanding the nuances of employee background checks, visit our Learning Center today.

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