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What Are The Different Types of Background Checks?

Hiring, onboarding, training, and retaining employees is an expensive affair. This is why it is critical to screen applicants ahead of time before they become a part of your culture. Background checks help companies make informed decisions by laying out detailed information about specific candidates. This gives you the peace of mind that you’re hiring the right person.

Everyone wants their resume to look flawless so how can you, as the employer, trust that everything you find on a resume is 100% true? Background checks help verify a candidate’s identity, certifications, licenses, experiences, and education history so you can ensure you’re hiring qualified candidates.

Verification processes such as criminal record checks help you uncover any history of violence an applicant may have. This keeps your workplace protected from people who may pose a threat to it. Background checks also help companies avoid the risk of lawsuits associated with negligent hiring claims. These claims occur when an organization knows (or should have known by doing their due diligence) that a candidate could pose a serious risk to their business.

When running background during the pre-employment process, employers must ensure screenings are deployed in accordance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). This law protects businesses from claims of unfair hiring practices and potential hires from privacy breaches and discrimination.

Types of Background Checks

There are several types of background checks a company may deploy when hiring a candidate. However, the type of screenings you may conduct will depend on the industry your business operates in and the positions you’re hiring for. For instance, you would run an MVR background check if you’re hiring a commercial driver, but the same test may not be required if you’re hiring someone for a banking position. Here are the different types of background checks companies must take note of:

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Identity Verification

Identity verification is one of the most common background checks. This screening helps companies ensure their prospective hires are not using stolen identities. Identity verification checks include verifying name, address, SSN, date of birth, whether an SSN was from a deceased person, whether an SSN was reported fraudulent, and whether there were (or are) any fraud alerts on the file.

Education and Professional License Background Checks

If an employer wants to hire a candidate for a position that demands specific licensure or educational qualifications, it is critical to run professional License check and education checks. Education background checks reveal information such as:

  • Degrees
  • Years Attended
  • Academic institutions
  • Specialized training
  • Certifications

Occupations that require these verifications include senior roles that demand advanced degrees, positions where education qualifications are important for public safety and legal processes, teachers, professors, contractors, and more. Employers must also run licensure checks for jobs that require a specific specialization such as plumbers, barbers, and more.

Credit Background Checks

Credit background checks open up a window to a prospective hire’s financial standing and credit history. These financial crime screening checks must be prioritized if a company is hiring for positions that come with financial duties, access to sensitive financial information, and management of a business’s fund. Credit background checks are an important part of hiring processes within the financial industry.

When running credit checks during the pre-employment process, a company needs to take note of the legalities associated with it. The FCRA regulates how a business may use a candidate’s credit reports. If, for instance, an employer runs a credit check and decides not to hire a candidate, they must give the candidate a chance to – either fix any misinformation on their report or provide an explanation regarding their credit history.

Criminal Background Checks

Every business must conduct criminal background checks. These checks are especially important if a prospective hire may need to have access to sensitive financial information. Criminal background checks also ensure a prospective hire doesn’t pose a threat to the rest of the workplace. These checks typically involve looking into county, state, and federal records for any warrants, convictions of misdemeanors, arrests, court records, acquitted charges, sex offenses, and more.

Motor Vehicle Reports (MVR)

MVR background checks uncover a candidate’s driving history. These checks are especially important if you’re hiring for a role that requires driving. An MVR report will reveal details such as moving violations, accidents, license suspensions, and other incidents. It will also disclose information about a candidate’s driver’s license such as whether the candidate held a commercial driving license and when their license expires.


E-verify involves the assessment of Form I-9 to “verify the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired for employment in the United States.” An e-verify background check can reveal either of the following two outcomes:

  • Employment Authorized, meaning the candidate is authorized to work in the U.S.
  • DHS or SSA Tentative Non-Confirmation (TNC), meaning the candidate’s information doesn’t match the records in the DHS and/or SSA system. An employee generally has the right to contest this result. However, a business can terminate an employee if they receive a Final Non-Confirmation result or fail to contest the result.

Fingerprint Background Checks

The FBI collects and stores fingerprint data in their Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System. This record includes about 70 million criminal profiles.

Companies hiring for positions that involve handling sensitive (company and customer) information or dealing with security clearances must require a candidate to undergo a fingerprint background check. Results from this check usually arrive in 2-4 weeks. Here’s what a fingerprint background check reveals:

  • Information like employment details, name, birth, and address
  • Criminal charges, arrest dates, or case details
  • Accidents
  • Insurance information

Social Media Background Checks

Social media background checks help companies detect any red flags in a candidate’s behavior online such as online bullying or hate speech. These red flags may indicate a candidate may harass other employees in the workplace. In addition, these behaviors can also reflect poorly on the company and trigger public relations issues.

Do You Truly Know the People You Hire?

A bad hire can be expensive for your company and toxic for your workplace. The right background checks can ensure you truly know the people you’re welcoming to your company. By laying out a comprehensive and convenient method of screening candidates.

Author Bio: 

Giovanni Gallo is the Co-CEO of Ethico, where his team strives to make the world a better workplace with compliance hotline services, sanction and license monitoring, and workforce eLearning software and services.

Growing up as the son of a Cuban refugee in an entrepreneurial family taught Gio how servanthood and deep care for employees can make a thriving business a platform for positive change in the world. He built on that through experience with startups and multinational organizations so Ethico’s solutions can empower caring leaders to build strong cultures for the betterment of every employee and their community.

When he’s not working, Gio’s wrangling his four young kids, riding his motorcycle, and supporting education, families, and the homeless in the Charlotte community.

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