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Unmasking the Mystery: Addressing HR’s Top 7 Employee Background Check Questions

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This may seem strange but also equivalent to a welcoming change.

Let us start the blog with a joke, a meme, and a story. (Sorry dear stats. We have had enough of you!)


How’s the hiring market out there?

It’s a tornado full of sharks 😊



A renowned company employed an AI-powered resume screening system.

In their quest for efficiency, they relied heavily on a system to analyze and shortlist candidates based on keywords, skills, and experience.

In between excitement, an AI-generated fake resume got shortlisted by the resume screening system.

Excited by the new technology and buried under the pile of job requisitions, they decided to skip employee background checks, unknowingly opening the door to a troubling predicament.

As a result, a candidate with fabricated work experience sailed through the recruitment process and secured a high-level position within the company.

The real culprits were,

  • Long background check turn-around time
  • Lack of background check policies
  • Over-reliance on feature-heavy and glorious HR systems

So, now you have all the fun and fear involved in hiring, let us address HR’s most pertinent employee background check questions.

1. How far back do employee background checks go?

Both – the depth and scope of employee background checks depend on several factors i.e., region, industry, and unique needs of the employers.

However, let’s talk about the major consideration which is government regulations.

Different countries have different regulations that control the depth of background checks.

For example, the majority of US states including Virginia, California, Kansas, Ohio, and New York have capped a 7-year limit for certain types of background check scope in their attempt to be compliant with Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

However, states like Kansas and Maryland approve background check extensions if the individual’s salary is more than $20,000 a year.

In essence, talent acquisition and HR teams must be aware of the jurisdictions they serve and the regulations that belong to those jurisdictions.

2. What do employee background checks look for?

Typically, the aim of conducting an employee background check is to verify and assess whether an individual’s shared academic and past employment information is correct.

However, in the case of high-level positions, it goes beyond academic and past employment checks.

The following are some common elements employee background checks look for. 

Background check

It is worth mentioning that employers must always comply with regulations while deciding the depth and scope of background checks.

Thus, it is always advisable to work with a reliable employee background check services vendor.

3. What is an advanced background check or level 2 background check?

An advanced background check or level 2 background check is a more detailed investigation into an individual’s past as compared to a standard or generic background check.

While the scope and depth of level 2 background checks are also governed by government regulations, it typically involves added screenings on top of basic checks.

These screenings include, 

  • A criminal history check from county, state, and federal databases
  • Fingerprinting for the highest-ever accurate screening
  • Contacting a broader range of previous employers, cross-referencing job titles and responsibilities
  • Contacting additional references beyond those provided by the candidate
  • Contacting educational institutions directly and verification of academics and ethics beyond mere degrees and certifications
  • Screening against government watchlists
  • Verifying the authenticity and validity of professional licenses and certifications

For conducting advanced level 2 background checks, employers must go specific as not every background check services provider is equipped with tech to support this level of BGC.

4. How long do employee background checks take?

Background check is very fascinating until you hit its gray side which is a long turn-around time.

Most basic and standard employee background checks take somewhere between 3-7 business days to be completed and generated the report.

In the case of a level 2 background check, turn-around time can be extended to as much as 30 days as it involves government entities.

There are a few background check service providers who offer instant BGC services, however, with a high risk of inaccurate or incomplete checks.

Azilen being committed to solving burning recruitment challenges with NextGen Solutions have a workable and reliable solution to get BGC report within seconds.

Velocity Network Foundation is an organization working relentlessly to reinvent how career records are shared and verified across the global market.

Leveraging blockchain technology, Velocity Foundation enables employers to turbocharge recruitment by instantly verifying career and academic data shared by candidates.

For higher agility, employers can integrate their system of records with Velocity’s blockchain network for issuing and verifying the credentials directly from their single system.

5. Can employer run background check without permission?

In most states and countries, conducting BGC without taking the consent of the candidate and/or employee is a violation of privacy laws and employment regulations.

Thus, it is mandatory to obtain the candidate’s permission before conducting a background check.

Not only this but in the case of turning a candidate down for a job based on a BGC report, employers are bound to tell an individual the following verbally, in writing, or electronically,

  • Contact details of background check services provider
  • That individual holds the right to get a free report from the background check services provider
  • That individual has the right to dispute information on the report
  • That the background check services provider didn’t make the decision about not hiring a candidate

6. Is an employee background check done before or after a job offer?

In most cases, employers execute background checks before giving job offers.

And this is one of the major reasons behind the brief period between a background check and a job offer. Because, as discussed, it easily takes 3-7 working days to get the BGC report.

Many employers prefer another approach. They conduct BGC after a conditional job offer has been made to the candidate but before confirming the final employment offer.

Employers can also conduct BGC on employees who are getting promoted or shifted to different office locations belonging to different jurisdictions.

So, in essence, there is no playbook. Employers can conduct BGC based on their internal policies, business nature, and recruitment workflow.

7. How to optimize employee background check workflow?

If your BGC workflow is lengthy, expensive, and complicated for even applicants, you must make a call and optimize it.

The top KPIs for BGC workflow optimization practice must be reduced delays and efficient & thorough screenings.

The following strategies will support you in achieving those KPIs. 

Background check strategies

However, one sure-shot strategy to optimize the BGC workflow is to go for HR Integration Services and execute background check API integration.

With this, TA and HR teams can get rid of jumping between BGC, ATS, and HCM systems, leading to faster operations that will ultimately enhance the candidate experience.

Not only this but it dramatically reduces the data entry or data migration required from one system to another, i.e., from ATS to BGC and again from BGC to ATS to HCM.

Bonus learning: What is smart background check?

Smart background check is a more advanced and technology-driven way to conduct background checks for several purposes.

Powered by cutting-edge technologies such as automation, AI, machine learning, and data analytics, it brings both speed and accuracy to the background screening process.

Smart background checks exist in the form of digital platforms which are designed and developed in a way to leverage different databases to collect information, analyze that collected information using AI and ML techniques, and apply the finest data analysis tactics to verify that data.

The top features of smart background check software include, 

  • Automated Data Retrieval
  • Comprehensive Search Capabilities
  • AI-Driven Analysis
  • Applicant Self-Service Portals
  • Compliance and Adverse Action Management
  • Reporting and Documentation
  • Integration and API Capabilities
  • Data security and compliance

To know more really amazing details of the working of smart background check software, you can refer to our case study of building a smart background check solution with automation in the core.

What inspired us today to write about background checks?

Though a background check is the most prominent stage of the recruitment lifecycle, it is ironic to see many large organizations still lack the capabilities to effectively conduct BGC.

They struggle with keeping the balance between king-sized turn-around time and good candidate experience.

And in between this struggle, they give the cold shoulder to the well-being of talent acquisition and HR teams who spend the majority of their time figuring a way out of a never-ending process.

Seeing such a level of misery ignites and inspires our commitment to helping recruitment and the HR community in achieving a faster and more efficient way to carry out BGC with our HR software development suite.

Here is our detailed response: 

With our extensive HR product engineering and integration skillsets, we collaborate with both employers and HR software vendors to realize their most ambitious workflow enhancement and unification goals.

In other words, we bring agility and trust into the background check lifecycle by solving your engineering and integration pitfalls.

We’re happy to embark on your journey of accomplishing BGC workflow your recruitment team, candidates and employees will feel as light as a feather!

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