Companies perform background checks all of the time on candidates whom they are considering hiring as a part of their business. But individuals need to also consider the background of the company that they’re considering the possibility of working for.
- Does the company pay employees on a regular, timely basis?
- Does the company have a history of layoffs, questionable hiring practices or poor working conditions?
- Is there a non-disclosure policy or a non-compete policy that new hires must sign when they go to work for the company?
These are all legitimate and plausible concerns for any individual to have when making an important career choice. It’s important to have all of the information and facts that you need before making a final decision.
The Purpose of a Background Check
If you’ve ever applied for any kind of job before in just about any industry, it’s likely that you’ve had a background check done on your past. It could have been a check on your employment history or work performance, or maybe a check on your finances and debts, or maybe there was even a background check on all of those things at once. A company will perform a background check for several reasons:
- to ensure that you have a clean history, free from any criminal activity
- to check on your financial activity to see if there are any inconsistencies or questionable financial activity
- to check to see if you have any aliases, false identities or long time lapses in your employment record for which you cannot account
When a company performs a background check, it doesn’t mean that they don’t trust you or they think you’re up to something unscrupulous; it’s quite the opposite. In many cases, they just want to ensure that you’re the right person for the job and that you can do what it is they need for you to do in that job capacity.
For instance, if you’re being considered for a role as a bank teller, the hiring company needs to make sure that you can at least balance your own checkbook! Therefore, if while launching a background financial check they discover that you have several outstanding insufficient funds checks that have affected your credit history, they have reason to pause in considering you for such a sensitive work position. They (the bank) would be held liable for any mistakes that are made on your behalf, and they have to consider that possibility when they’re making a hiring decision.
By the same token, an employee who is considering going to work for a company needs to have as much relative information as possible before they accept a position to work for them.
Checking Out a Company
So, if you’re offered a job from a really good employer, but you have limited knowledge about them or some reservations, what questions do you ask? How can you find out the information that you really need to know?
You can and should start by launching your own background check on the company. Find out how long they’ve been in business. Check to see what their employee turnover rate is and the average length of time any employee has worked for them.
If there isn’t any readily available information in the news, you’ll need to rely on offline and online searches to get information. Smaller businesses will likely not appear in the news, so it’s important to get as much detailed information as possible.
What’s their policy on families and medical leave? This is an important question for young families, and the company’s stand on that policy can be a large factor in a decision.
Do they have more than one location or office? Are they financially solvent, meaning, have they ever or does it look like they will experience any cash flow problems in the near future? Will this cash problem affect your payroll check or any money that you’ll pay into your retirement fund?
Do Your Homework
In the end, instead of using the “wait-and-see” approach, do your homework early and thoroughly. When you get the first call back from the company saying they’re interested in speaking with you again, go ahead and start researching them then. Be prepared to ask a few questions in your second interview, but also look for the information online or through other sources like referrals, search and background agencies or even through the company’s literature. Make a final decision based on what you’re comfortable with and not on the strength of the company’s name.