Your questions answered
We've compiled a list of our most frequently asked questions to do with background screening. If you cannot find what you are looking for below, please feel free to get in touch with the team via our contact form.
A background check will investigate a candidate’s background based on criteria determined by their prospective or current employer. A check of a candidate’s background may include employment, education, criminal records, credit history, motor vehicle and licence record checks. Each type of check will reveal different information pertinent to that check. A candidate should get clarification from the organisation requesting the background check in order to understand what specific searches are being requested.
As a job seeker, you may have to undergo a background check during the hiring process. Think of it generally as a verification or confirmation process of information that you have already provided to the employer and potentially a review of public records about you. A background check helps ensure that the information you’ve provided to your potential employer is accurate so that they can determine if you are a good fit for the position.
Here’s how you can prepare for your background check:
1. Have a copy of your curriculium vitae handy, along with the best phone number and email address for Agenda to contact you at if they have questions regarding the information that you’ve provided.
2. Research your own history, including employment dates, job titles and salaries, so that you are able to provide complete and accurate information to Agenda if asked.
3. In case schools or past employers don’t have records available to confirm your background history, locate transcripts or diplomas in advance and collect past payslips.
4. Be prepared to provide your current and past addresses, as well as your driver’s licence number in some instances.
Please be honest and as accurate as possible when providing your information. Employers may withdraw their job offer if you are found to be dishonest.
For many people applying for a new job, you will need to undertake a DBS check. With recent changes from CRB to DBS, some people are unsure what is involved in such a check and what it entails. A DBS background check is necessary to ensure that the practice’s reputation is held to the highest standards and detects criminal convictions before candidates are hired, protecting your organisation’s integrity.
In the case of an optometrist who works closely with vulnerable adults and young children, the requirement is that they might require an enhanced DBS criminal record check. The enhanced check is the only check which provides information on those who may be included on the 2 DBS ‘barred lists’ (previously called ISA barred lists). It is a criminal oﬀence for those professionals on the barred list to be able to work with these groups.
DBS background checks are the only real way to find out what information is true, false, exaggerated or withheld. With so many different aspects to consider with each candidate such as education, work history, professional licences and criminal history; verification background screening checks are important and essential if a company really wants to know who they are hiring. DBS checks will also pick up criminal convictions and criminal records. Multiple cautions can be filtered if the offences are eligible and the relevant filtering period has elapsed for each caution.
Employers’ use of criminal record information in making employment decisions is subject to applicable laws and regulations
Such considerations may include:
1. How recent was the conviction?
2. What was the nature and gravity of the offense, and is it relevant to the job?
3. What are the facts or circumstances surrounding the offence or conduct?
4. How many offences has the candidate been convicted of?
5. Is there evidence that the candidate performed the same type of work, post-conviction, with the same or a different employer, with no known incidents of criminal conduct?
6. What is the length and consistency of employment history before and after the offence or conduct?
7. Does the candidate have employment or character references and any other information regarding fitness for the particular position?
8. Has the candidate engaged in rehabilitation efforts, such as education/training?
9. Will the position involve working with sensitive populations such as children or the elderly?
You should contact your prospective employer to discuss their adjudication process as it relates to the evaluation of criminal records.
Employers may verify employment history as part of the employee background check to confirm the work experience you have conveyed to them and to be sure you have the professional background and appropriate work experience required for the position.
An employer will typically verify job titles, start and end dates for each job, and will sometimes check on salary and job duties. An employer may also ask for the reason for termination and whether the candidate is eligible for rehire.
Employers become very concerned when a candidate claims he or she has years of experience, when in fact they do not or when a candidate misrepresents their past titles, achievements or responsibilities. These are examples of the kinds of discrepancies that could come up in the background check which may indicate to employers that the candidate is being intentionally dishonest.
Discrepancies between the information provided by the candidate and returned by Agenda generally will be noted on the background report. Therefore, during the hiring process it’s best to provide employers with the most accurate information possible regarding your employment history to avoid any potential inconsistencies and to avoid a delay in processing the report.
To verify your employment history, Agenda generally contacts your previous employers (or their representatives) directly to confirm the information you provided.
If Agenda is not able to verify your information via the previous employer, then Agenda may ask you to provide other documents as proof of your work history. It’s a good idea to have these documents readily available as you go through a background check in case this situation arises, particularly if you know, for example, that your former employer is out of business.
The depth of a background checks search depends on the type of data returned and the location of that data. Other searches such as verification of employment, education or professional licences may not be legally time limited and are defined by the organisation requesting the background check. A candidate can contact their employer for an understanding of the search depth of their specific background check package.
Some employers order credit checks on their candidates – particularly for positions that include financial or cash handling responsibilities or access to an employer’s sensitive information and trade secrets – to among other things, evaluate whether the candidate would present an unacceptable risk of theft or other dishonest behaviour in the job for which they are being evaluated.
Employment credit reports generally will list credit accounts, balances, payment patterns, delinquent accounts, and accounts that have gone into collections, and certain other information maintained by the national credit bureaus, however employment-purposed credit reports provided by the national credit bureaus do not contain your credit score.
Also, the ordering of an employment credit report does not adversely impact your credit score, and other authorised third parties that may obtain your credit report should not be able to see when an employer has requested your employment credit report.
If you’re asked for additional information during the screening process, please try to reply as promptly as possible. In some instances, you can provide data that can help complete the verification, such as previous employment, or transcripts or copies of your diploma to verify education.
Supervisors and/or co-workers listed by the candidate as references can provide an assessment of the candidate’s capabilities and work record. References can include personal and professional relationships. There are specific regulations that govern what types of questions can be asked. These questions usually cover the length of time the candidate worked at the organization or if that previous employer would rehire this candidate.
This check is also known as a professional reference check.
Employers generally do not assume that people applying for jobs are lying on their resumes and job applications – quite the contrary.
The background check is often a final step taken by employers to help ensure a sound hiring decision and protect the employer from a number of potential risks.
Job Competence: For many employers, a background check is a reliable way of verifying claims made by job seekers during the hiring process. With a tight employment market, the appeal of overstating educational qualifications or enhancing job histories, for example, can grow. As a future employee, wouldn’t you feel more assured in knowing that your co-workers have been screened to help ensure they are qualified for the jobs they hold?
Workplace Safety: Employers face certain responsibilities for their employees’ welfare, as well as for the safety of customers, vendors and visitors. For example, if an employer hires someone who harms another employee, the employer may face claims for negligent hiring if, for example, the employer had reasonable cause to believe that the employee might be dangerous to others or the employer failed to conduct a reasonable investigation to discover whether the employee is unfit for the position or may cause harm to others.
Workplace Theft: Employers know that most business theft today is performed by insiders. A background check can help employers to make intelligent and informed hiring decisions to help reduce their risk of theft.
Honesty and Integrity: A confirmed misstatement or fabrication made by a candidate during the hiring process often is enough for an employer to question the candidate’s honesty or integrity and potentially disqualify them from a job. To see the importance to employers of confirming candidate credentials, look no further than the very public examples of CEOs and high-profile professors and coaches that embellished their credentials, only to cause harm to the reputation of the employers that failed to conduct a (or a sufficient) background check on them.
The Bottom Line: Organisational reputations have always been a great concern to employers, as the most highly regarded organizations generally are able to attract the best qualified workers. Background checks help employers safeguard their reputations by creating safer, more secure work environments staffed by qualified employees.
Sanctions checks are specialised searches that include a number of government sanction databases that identify individuals who are prohibited from certain activities or industries. Sanctions checks may be performed by a wide range of employers and are often required in regulated industries like healthcare and financial services, and for government contractors.
An employer may check the motor vehicle (or driving record) history of their candidates, particularly those who will drive the employer’s vehicle or operate machinery, or whose job duties include frequent driving. With a motor vehicle records check, employers are generally looking to uncover a history of unsafe driving or poor decision making that may put the employer, its employees, its customers, or the general public at risk.
Many employers perform some form of employment background check. Each employer decides what components to include in the background checks performed on their candidates, and whether to perform each themselves or through a background screening provider.
The nature of the employer’s business and the role being filled are among the factors which may be considered by the employer in determining what is included in a background check.
Some employers, for example, may only require a simple criminal record history check of their candidates, while other employers also may verify previous employment and education history, among other things. Regulated industries such as transportation and health care have very stringent screening and testing requirements dictated by various laws.
If you’ve lived, worked or gone to school in countries outside of the UK, your employer may run a background check on you in those countries.
Employers will often run the same kinds of checks internationally – for example, employment history verifications, education history verifications and criminal records checks – as they do in the UK, to the extent it is permissible by law in the foreign country in question.
In performing these international screens, Agenda may need to request from the job candidate additional information specific to that country. For example, for certain Latin American countries the candidate’s mother’s maiden name will be required to perform the screen; and Chinese law requires the person’s name in Chinese characters and a copy of the candidate’s passport.
You’ve applied to a great company, aced the interview, and are now on your way to a new job!
Suddenly, that same great company wants to check your background to confirm you have all of the skills you listed on your resume and job application, and to ensure you’re not a risk to the workplace they’re trying to protect.
While your natural initial reaction might be to ask “why?” there’s reason to appreciate it. By performing a background check on its new hires, your new employer is demonstrating a strong commitment to a quality workforce and a safe workplace.
Wouldn’t you feel more comfortable knowing that the people around you are also honest, qualified for their jobs, and were successfully screened?
Dishonest candidates may claim job positions they never held and degrees they didn’t earn, and if these individuals are hired, you could find yourself on a team with someone unqualified for their job. Other candidates may try to hide their criminal offenses instead of disclosing them to the prospective employer for evaluation and could end up being a liability to the employer and a danger risk to co-workers like you.
Background checks essentially verify information candidates have already provided and are a prudent way for employers to help ensure that they are hiring the best people for the job. And for you, it means your new employer has taken steps to build a working environment of high integrity, trust, competence, security, and safety.
Additionally, employers have a ‘duty of care’ to the employees and ensuring a person is who they say they are and has the necessary experience and qualifications for the role they are applying for as step towards protecting their employee workforce.