The short answer: Yes!
The slightly less short answer: Not only can you do so, but you absolutely should. Background checks are a common part of hiring these days.
They keep applicants honest by catching discrepancies on their resumes, let you know if someone has a repeated history of theft or other behavior that would make them unsuitable for the job, and generally provide a more well-rounded picture of the people who you’re thinking about hiring.
If background checks are so great, why wait until making an offer? Why not screen all your top applicants?
There are a few reasons for this.
- Background checks cost money. If you are interviewing just three top candidates, that’s (ideally) going to cost you three times as much as just running a background check on your chosen candidate when you offer them a position.
- Background checks are a hassle for job candidates to complete. While you might think about background checks as something that a third party does on behalf of your business, there is a fair bit of work that goes into them on the candidate’s end. Digging up old home addresses and dates of employment and (depending on the type of background check) even going into an office and getting fingerprinted can all take a significant slice out of someone’s day. It’s a lot to ask of someone when you aren’t even ready to offer them a position.
- Background checks take up space. Once you’ve collected that information, you’re responsible for storing it for at least a year. How much space do you have available for extensive files on people that you never even hired?
- Background checks contain sensitive information. In today’s era, people are justifiably hesitant to provide their social security number to just anybody. Unless you are coming with a job offer in hand, asking for this kind of information can be a turn-off to your best candidates, who have the option of choosing an employer that places a higher value on their privacy and information security.
How to make a job offer contingent on passing a background check.
- Let all candidates know early on that any offer will be contingent. This gives them time in advance to assemble any documents they might need, and allows them to withdraw from the process early on if they know they won’t want to go through with the check. This saves you time and effort as well.
- Have all the necessary paperwork and information on hand. Our background check toolkit contains most of what you need. You should be able to provide it at the same time as the contingent offer itself.
- Be upfront about the kinds of red flags you’re looking for. It’s better to be open about this information if you also want applicants to be forthcoming about their history.
- Understand that applicants may not be able to give notice for a contingent offer. You will likely have to wait two weeks until after you’ve gotten the check back, confirmed that they are clear to work for you, and have a start date in mind.
- In the meantime, clear up any questions. If they want to know more about benefits or negotiate salary, this is the perfect time to do it.
- If something does pop up in the background check, give the applicant time to address or correct it. Sometimes concerns are easily explained, and clerical errors are a part of life. Job applicants have a legal right to address any mistakes they find in their report.
- Welcome your new employee! Congratulations, you’ve successfully mastered the art of the contingent job offer.
Get help with Employee Background Checks.
Complete Payroll offers employee background checks as a service to its clients. Click here to set up a background check or simply learn more about the service.
Also, check out our comprehensive resource page on employee background checks that consolidates all the information, blog posts and other resources about running background checks on employees and potential hires in one place.