How To Do A Background Check? [In 5 Simple Steps]

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Updated · Aug 24, 2023

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Teodora Dobrilova
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Teodora Dobrilova


Teodora Dobrilova
Editor-in-chief, Social Media And Digital Marketing Expert | Joined October 2021
Teodora Dobrilova

After getting a master's degree in Literature, Publishing, and Mass Media, Teodora spent most of her... | See full bio

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A background check is a formal process that verifies someone’s personal and professional information. This process aims to ascertain whether the given information about that person is false.

People conduct background checks to learn more about a date, a new neighbor, a tenant applicant, or a job candidate.

9 in 10 employers do background checks in their pre-employment phase. Failing to do so can lead to bad hiring, creating complications within the workplace.

Read this article to learn more about background checks, how to do them, and their benefits and risks. 

🔑Key Takeaways:

  • Background checks are essential for mitigating potential workplace and company risks. Choosing the right applicant ensures the safety of the company. 
  • Neglecting to do a background check may cause issues and compromise the company's reputation.
  • The extent and depth of the background checks vary depending on the information needed and the kind of position.
  • The results of a background check help employers make the right decision on whether to hire a person or not. 

Defining Background Check

📖 Definition:

A background check refers to an examination by an employer of the background of a person who wants to work for them. 

This process involves gathering information from public databases, such as: 

  • criminal records
  • credit reports
  • educational history 
  • employment history 

Results from the background check are one of the factors in making hiring decisions. 

Hiring managers can also include interviews with professional references. Moreover, background checks vary in depth and extent depending on the job position.

👍 Helpful Article:

Before doing such a process, it is better to understand everything that background check entails. This is to ensure a smooth process, especially when legal and ethical factors come into play.

Steps on Conducting Background Checks

A background check can help determine if the applicants fit the job. That is why hiring managers need to learn how to do a background check on someone. 

To learn how to do a background check, follow these five simple steps:

Steps on Conducting Background Checks

  1. Familiarity with the Law

There are laws associated with conducting background checks. People who run background checks should know the law to avoid violating the person's rights. 

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is the law that governs access to consumers' sensitive information. The law ensures that background check information is fair, correct, and kept private.

📝 Note:

Although applicants subject themselves to background checks, employers still must follow the laws and rules governing the conduct of background checks. This ensures that the rights of the applicants are protected and not violated.

  1. Ask for Authorization

It is illegal to do a background check without permission. Therefore, getting the applicant's consent before running a background check on them is crucial. It may result in a lawsuit as well as legal fines and penalties.

Employers must notify applicants of their intention and ask permission to proceed. Employers typically require applicants to sign a background check consent form. 

The consent form typically looks like this:

Sample of a Consent Form

  1. Collection of Personal Information

With consent to run a background check on someone, collecting the information needed for background checks is necessary.

The required pieces of information are the following:

  • Complete name
  • Social Security Number
  • Physical Address
  • Phone Numbers
  • Email Address

👍Helpful Article: 

There are many things to consider when conducting a background check. Read this article to learn what background checks cover.

  1. Conduct Background Checks

Employers can use background check sites to do the background check process faster. 

On the other hand, some employers still favor the do-it-yourself (DIY) approach to conducting background checks. However, it’s worth noting that DIY background checks don’t have a per-search cost. Employers also have total control of the process.

  1. Evaluate the Results

To evaluate the results, the person who does the background checks must know the red flags to look out for because the result of a background check is a factor in determining whether an applicant can be hired. 

Doing a background check is easy, but using a background check site can make it even easier and faster. 

Effective Background Check Sites That You Can Use

Background checks can be challenging, as gathering information about a person takes a lot of effort and time. However, background check sites make this process faster and easier.

These sites allow users to search for information on anyone by:

  • name
  • phone number
  • address 
  • email address

Take a closer look at the top 3 background check sites on the market.

  1. Truthfinder

Truthfinder is a reputable, legitimate background check site that has provided comprehensive reports and accurate information for over eight years.

Using Truthfinder's background check service, users could quickly look up someone’s criminal record, education history, and any potential warning signs that should be considered in their application.

Additionally, background check reports from Truthfinder offer updated information that is presented chronologically from the subject's birth to the most recent information.

Users can use the TruthFinder background check service for $28.05 per month. However, they pay less if they choose a bimonthly subscription because it only costs $23.28 per month.

🎉Pro Tip: 

You can use TruthFinder for $1 for a 5-day trial. You only need to provide your name, email, and payment information. However, you must cancel the subscription before the trial period ends, or you will pay for the whole month.

  1. BeenVerified

Since 2007, BeenVerified has enabled over 38 million monthly searches. One of the advantages of BeenVerified over other background check sites is its impressive mobile app.

The BeenVerified mobile app provides the best user experience by accessing public records and doing background checks quickly and anywhere. 

BeenVerified background checks provide legal names, court records, sex offender information, and more. 

Users can choose between a $26.89 monthly membership or a $52.44 quarterly subscription to BeenVerified.

  1. PeopleLooker

PeopleLooker offers background checks at a lower cost than TruthFinder and BeenVerified. A monthly membership subscription to PeopleLooker costs $22.86. In comparison, a quarterly subscription would only cost $18.28 per month.

In background searches, PeopleLooker provides bankruptcy, criminal records, etc. This information is essential and can help hiring managers skip some applications.

👍Helpful Article: 

Other than these sites, there are still plenty of other sites users can use. Check out this review of the leading background check sites to help you decide which site to use.

Benefits and Risks of Background Checks

Doing a background check can result in long-term advantages for companies. This gives employers confidence in the people they hire, avoiding future complications within the workplace. 

While background checks are beneficial in many ways, they also carry inherent risks. 

These are the benefits companies can get if they include background checks in their pre-employment screening:

Benefits of Background Checks

Increases Job Applicant Quality

Pre-employment checks deter applicants with serious issues, so only qualified applicants apply.

Improved Quality of Hire

A background check is a screening procedure for hiring managers. Results determine if an applicant can proceed to the next phase of the application. Wherein only applicants with good qualities are chosen to proceed.

Avoid Company Liability

Doing a background check helps companies avoid hiring employees with serious issues that, later on, will cause damage to the company.

Guaranteed Safe Workplace and Personnel Security

Cases like hiring a company driver require a comprehensive background check regarding past convictions for DUI or the use of illegal substances. 

This job involves working with clients or office personnel. And if the applicant is hired and continues to use illicit drugs or drink and drive, they could endanger clients and staff.

Evade Dishonest Employees

Dishonest employees negatively affect the company's morale, productivity, and reputation.

Lessen Staff Turnover

Hiring and training staff requires much time and resources. It is better to hire the right person the first time to have employees who stay longer and are worth investing in. 

💡Did You Know? 

Companies that conduct background checks are among the 93% top-performing companies because they have higher employee engagement. 

Now that you know how it helps in hiring the right employees, check out these risks that background checks entail:

Risks of Background Checks

Expensive and Time-Consuming

Background checks are not free; companies spend money conducting them. It takes 3-5 days to do a background check.

For employers who accept plenty of applicants, the cost can add up quickly, and at the same time, it is not ideal for urgent hiring.

Bias Decisions

The results of background checks can cause biased decisions in the hiring process. Applicants who have a criminal record are sometimes automatically rejected. 

Regardless of whether the applicants have changed and improved their attitudes and are qualified for the position, they become unfit for the job.

There are benefits to conducting background checks. However, it also has potential risks. Before looking at the results of background checks, businesses must consider these risks.


For professional or personal use, background checks give users confidence in the people they interact with. It helps companies make proper decisions when it comes to hiring people. 

While it comes with various benefits, some risks must be considered. Companies must follow a proper guide to decide who is the right applicant for the position.


How long does a background check take?

A typical background check takes between 2 to 5 business days. Lack of accurate information about a person causes delays in the background check process.

What is a red flag in a background check?

A red flag in a background check is any negative information about the applicant. This includes inconsistencies in personal information and past criminal convictions.

What happens after a background check?

After the background check, the hiring manager reviews the results. An email is sent to the applicant if they pass the background check.

How much does a background check cost?

The cost of a typical background check ranges from $10 to $500. The price of a background check varies depending on what components are included in the check.


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