Get Started

Common Misconceptions About Background Checks

by Ali Gordon

Whether it’s Tinder introducing criminal background checks for online dating or small businesses hiring for long-term success, background screenings of many kinds are growing more popular. These are common misconceptions about background checks...and the correct information you need to know.

Employers Only Use Background Checks to Find Problems

Many people envision a background check as a faceless, technology-driven process that is highly impersonal and designed to dig up problematic pasts. But that doesn’t have to be the case! Pre-employment screenings can also be used to confirm identity, qualifications, education, and sometimes character--all of which can make an employer more confident and excited about their hiring choices. It’s the beginning of a stronger employment relationship, not just a way to unearth hidden history.

At eKnowID, we hold the philosophy that advanced technology and a personal touch can go hand-in-hand, and if a candidate has a concern about content that shows up on one of our background checks, we work with our clients to help manage the dispute process and present the most accurate picture to an employer. It’s not just about finding problems to disqualify an applicant--it’s about building a relationship on a foundation of shared trust and confidence.

All Background Screenings Are the Same

This myth is popular, but patently false: there are actually over 1,000,000 different types of background searches run every year! Background screenings can differ from job to job depending on the depth needed to assess qualification. 

For example, there is a difference between a criminal background check that simply considers arrest or felony history and a check that includes more detailed government documentation, such as an FBI report. Court records may not necessarily answer the same questions that an Identity History Summary from the FBI could provide--like proof of naturalization, military service, etc. This is just one example of where hiring for a specific role may require one check instead of another, or both. Other background screenings may extend to considerations like reference checks, address and credit history, or social media screenings where legal.

Background Checks Are Only Useful Prior to Hiring

While many people are already familiar with pre-employment screenings, continuous background checks are actually becoming more popular. We live in a highly dynamic, competitive world, and it’s important for businesses to ensure that they not only hire the right candidates, but also retain the right employees. A pre-employment screening is a useful snapshot, but continuous checks in different industries--like health care and security--can also help a company ensure the ongoing quality of their team and brand.

A Criminal Record Automatically Disqualifies a Candidate

The United States has long held the record for the highest incarceration rate in the world...and that impacts employment and recidivism in significant ways. Did you know that 1 in 3 adults has a criminal record? Even when former convicts have served their time, fines have been paid for misdemeanors, and folks are highly qualified for employment, most employers do not actively recruit individuals with any kind of criminal record. This can lead to the assumption that a criminal record simply disqualifies candidates for employment. But that’s not actually true.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and Charles Koch Institute released a shared study in 2019 reporting, “[Two-thirds] of managers and three-fourths of HR professionals have hired people who committed misdemeanors or substance-related felonies such as DUIs. Fewer report hiring people convicted of violent or theft felonies. And more than two-thirds of HR professionals who have hired people with criminal histories think their quality of work is as high as or higher than the work of employees who don't have a criminal record.” 

At eKnowID, we believe in the power of “screening in” to find a qualified fit, not just screening out. This not only helps companies protect themselves from violating EEO laws that prohibit record-based hiring discrimination, but it also helps employers broaden their ability to access qualified candidates. SHRM-SCP president and CEO, Johnny C. Taylor Jr. explained that this is the way of the future: “A criminal record should never be viewed as an automatic disqualification for employment...It's time to put an end to the stigma that holds back inclusive hiring and retire outdated employment practices." Background screenings that turn up criminal records do not have to be an impediment, but when conducted with a personal touch can actually better build that relationship between a qualified applicant and an employer, regardless of history.

A Google Search Brings Up the Same Things as A Background Check Service

While free online tools can certainly support a hiring process, they can also be risky and inaccurate. Outside of public records published by government entities, free online tools can present an incomplete picture of a candidate, create compliance problems, and even be fronts to scam business owners. In this case, the old adage “you get what you pay for” holds true: your investment in your company’s hiring process often matches the outcomes of success with candidates.

Content of a check, as explained previously, is not the only way background screenings can differ...there’s also quality. Not all background check services offer the same credibility, and scams are on the rise. Just googling information about prospective hires may not protect you or set your team up for success. eKnowID technology is designed to not only ensure consistent, certified quality, but we also pick up 25% more red flags than any other available reports.

Not sure which background check is right for you?

We’re here to help. Our U.S. based support team and expert investigators will work with you to make sure you have everything you need.