Why do employers do background checks?

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
Organizational 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.