Background Checks for Employment 101

What is a background check?

A background check is the process of reviewing a candidate’s history through legal records to verify the candidate’s information provided, reduce the risk of potential liabilities, and make confident hiring decisions. Some examples of background checks for employment include criminal record checks, motor vehicle reports, and drug screens.

A clean background check report will provide you peace of mind that your candidate has a history free from negligence or other prior activities that may put your customers, patients, or guests at risk. This is critical because you want to ensure anyone you hire is trustworthy and equipped for the position. Further, bringing on someone who is a good fit for the role and will add value to your organization (rather than risk) saves you money in the long run given the high cost of turnover.

Background checks are more important for certain types of roles than they are for others. For instance, roles that require operating heavy machinery, working with children, dispensing medication, or accessing financial records bring an added layer of risk for your organization. Examples of red flags that might show up on a background check include a suspended driver’s license for a candidate applying to a role that requires driving or an employment history that is inconsistent with what the candidate provided.

Common types of background checks for employment

Background check is a broad term that can encompass a range of screens, legal record searches, and verifications. Employers often use a combination of any of the following types of background checks depending on the role:

Criminal background checks

Criminal background checks are exactly as they sound. These checks review a candidate’s criminal history through county, state, and federal records. Employers typically perform a criminal background check to ensure that a prospective employee will not pose a risk to customers, patients, and guests or create an unsafe work environment for your existing team. Red flags on a criminal background check will vary based on your organization’s needs and the role.

Types of criminal background checks include:

  • National criminal databases
  • County criminal courts
  • Federal and state criminal records
  • Sex offender registries
  • Domestic and global terrorist watch lists

Drug screens

Drug screens are tests that determine whether alcohol or illegal drugs are in a candidate’s system. These screens can be used prior to employment or periodically throughout an employee’s tenure — depending on the role. Drug screens are important for roles where impairment can be life threatening, cause damages to the organization, or harm its customers or patients, such as heavy equipment operators or home health aides. By law, most drug screens require some advanced notice and cannot be conducted without consent.

Common drug screens include:

  • 5-panel urine analysis
  • 10-panel urine analysis
  • Hair test
  • Breathalyzer

Motor vehicle reports or driving records

Similar to criminal background checks, motor vehicle and driving record checks review a candidate’s legal records relating to driving. These checks are most important for roles that require driving — such as home health nurses or truck drivers. Typically a driving record check will uncover:


  • Traffic accidents
  • Driving record points
  • Current drivers license status
  • DUI’s in public record
  • Other traffic law violations, convictions, and fines

Social security trace

Social security trace checks are used to simply verify a person is who they say they are. These checks uncover information related to a candidate’s social security number, including:

  • The year the SSN was issued
  • The state in which the SSN was issued
  • Associated names, including aliases and maiden names
  • Recent and associated addresses


Employers typically cross reference the information gathered in a social security trace with the information provided by the candidate to confirm and verify identity.

Education and employment verification

Education and employment verifications are also used to verify information provided by the candidate. These are important when an employee’s prior work history is critical to success in the role. These verifications also add peace of mind that a candidate hasn’t lied and that they’d make a trustworthy member of your team.

Education and employment verifications are typically conducted to confirm:

  • Job start and end dates
  • Titles held
  • Job duties
  • School or university attendance dates

The challenge with employment background checks

Background checks are a critical part of the hiring process — they help give you peace of mind that you’re hiring the right candidates for the job every time. But it’s a step that many employers are tempted to skip because conducting a background check can slow down your hiring process impacting your time-to-fill for critical roles.

Typically, the process of conducting background checks for employment requires you to jump from platform to platform to contact background check providers, obtain results, analyze results with your team, and keep candidates informed. This can add days to your hiring process. And at a time when the number of open jobs still outweighs the number of available candidates in many industries, a few days can be the difference between bringing on a great candidate and losing them to faster-moving competitors.

On top of this, the act of moving from system to system to complete this step adds room for error. Critical information can get lost or misconstrued when you manually transfer it from email conversations to your hiring platform. This can also impact your hiring decisions and timeline.

The solution? Background checks should be a step built into the applicant tracking system you’re using to manage and communicate with candidates. When you can order the right combination of background checks and other screeners directly from your platform, get the results in-app, and immediately communicate with your candidates from the system — you save says in your process and drastically reduce the risk of error.

The Hireology solution

Hireology’s in-platform background check software, which is powered by an integration with leading background check provider Accurate, allows you to run a fast and efficient hiring process while gaining peace of mind that you’re hiring the very best. With this integration, you can order any combination of screens and checks within your Hireology account. On top of that, Hireology offers bundles on common combinations of checks and screens, saving you money long-term. 

Here’s how it works: Within the platform, you can select the required background checks or drug screens and obtain candidate authorization. You can also email candidates if they need to take any action, and you’ll be notified as well to simplify the entire process. This leads to timely turnaround of applicant screening results, eliminates errors, and ensures each new hire can be fully vetted before you extend an offer.

Once background checks are complete and the results are delivered to your Hireology account, you can then conduct the remaining steps of your hiring process instantly — all within the Hireology application. You can schedule any additional required interviews, text and email candidates about next steps, generate and send offer letters, kick off new-hire onboarding, and more. 

Here’s a closer look at the benefits of Hireology’s in-app background check functionality:

Save money

Reduce your spend by purchasing bundles of commonly used background checks and screenings for a discount — directly from the Hireology platform

Automate manual hiring steps

Keep your process moving fast by configuring background check and drug screen automations for any type of role

Screen applicants faster

See timely turnaround of applicant screening to keep the hiring process moving and get top candidates on board faster

Hire with peace of mind

Choose from over 10 different screening packages to accurately screen candidates to ensure your new hires are up for the demands of the role

Keep your process compliant

Ensure your company is following a legally-compliant background screening process at all times

Background checks for employment give you peace of mind that you’re bringing on the right candidates who are equipped for your open roles. While this is a critical step in the hiring process for many industries, it can be time-consuming — leading to drawn out hiring processes and lost candidates. Hire with confidence while also moving fast on top talent with Hireology’s built-in background check options. To learn more about the platform and this powerful integration, schedule a time to chat with our expert team today.