Background Checks for Candidates 

Close-up image of employer reading cv of job candidate

Finding the right candidate for a job is about getting a number of things together. You want the person with the right experience, approach and qualifications. You want someone who is enthusiastic about their new role and will fit in well with the team. Sometimes it can be easy to focus on all of this and forget about the important background checks for candidates. After all, there’s no point in getting the perfect candidate then finding out there is some reason that prevents them from taking the job.

Getting It Right

So what are the basic checks for employers that should be carried out for most all employees before they start in a position? The first one is the identity check. Make sure that you get the candidate’s authorisation before you start carrying out checks to ensure you comply with data protection regulations.

Next, you need to establish that the person is who they say they are. Often this will involve providing two forms of photo ID and one that confirms the address of the person or a similar makeup. The documents need to be originals and from a trustworthy and reliable source as well as being valid, dated and current – the best documents are ones that are difficult to forge such as passports or driving licenses.

After ID is firmly established, you may next want to perform a Criminal Records Bureau check, now known as a Disclosure and Barring Service or DBS checks. There is a form to complete along with the paperwork confirming the person’s identity, although there are now quite a few businesses that provide online background checks. Once the checks are complete, the employee is provided with a certificate that is presented to the potential employer. There are three levels of this check depending on the type of job in question – standard, enhanced and enhanced with list checks.

Further Checks

Once you have established their ID, you need to also check to see if they have the ‘right to work’ in the UK. This involves taking copies of documents confirming they are able to work in the UK as well as identity check paperwork to confirm the person is who they say they are.

Some jobs may require a health check before an employee can take up a position. This may be if the job requires it or for legal reasons, such as an eye test for drivers of commercial vehicles. Written consent is required before this check can be carried out and employees can ask to have a copy of the report, ask for information to be changed and even deny it to an employer if they want.

Background Checks

Many companies now consider conducting background checks before the interview process to establish some of this information in advance. This can help find the candidates who are withholding information and save the company money and time in putting them through the interview and full checks process. Third party companies can often provide these services to save the employer having to do so and these companies will have a better understanding of how and where to get this information, making for a quicker and more efficient proves.

Getting the Most from an Interview

Interview of two business professionals

Going for an interview is huge for most people but it should also be huge for employers. Getting the best out of an interview is crucial to get the right candidate. It should be about giving information about the job, the duties and the company as much as getting information from the candidate. So how can you get the most from an interview?


Preparing for an interview should be a serious undertaking. Sure, you will likely know enough about the job in question to be able to converse about it with the candidate but it never hurts to brush up. You also need to look at what questions you want to ask or what information you need to gather. Write yourself a checklist of points to cover as well as a list of questions to ask.

It is important to ask every candidate the same basic questions to allow yourself to compare them and ask plenty of open ended questions to allow people to expand on their answers. It also pays to learn a little about the candidate before the interview, reviewing their cover letter and resume as well as any checks that have been carried out with their permission. You could even have a look at their professional social media accounts.

What To Do

There are no rules about interviews but there are some good tips about what to do to get the best from the candidate and make the right decision. For starters, make the candidate feel comfortable, show them around the office before you start and introduce them to a few members of staff. Give them a cup of coffee or a glass of water.

Try to make the interview as conversational as possible as this brings the best out of people. Start by asking them about themselves, their hobbies and interests as this often gets people to open up and relax. If the conversation turns off-topic during the interview, go with it – you may learn something about the candidate from this.

What Not To Do

One of the worst things you can do at an interview is make it all about you and not about the candidate. If you do most of the talking, you aren’t going to find out much about them. An ideal ratio is that you should be talking 20% of the time and the candidate should be talking the other 80%.

While certain checks need to be done to establish that a person can accept the job, such as their right to work and their criminal records check (now a DRB check), you can’t ask them about certain things at an interview. These include if English if their first language as there is no legal requirement for this to work in the UK, only that they speak English fluently to operate effectively. Asking questions about disabilities or previous sickness records also cannot be asked. Even asking their age or if they are married should be avoided as it can be seen as being personal and potentially discriminatory.