How to do a background check for pre-employment screening

  •  01/30/2018
  • By Andrea Collatz
  •  Criminal Background , Employer , How-to articles

No employer wants to make a bad hire. The cost of a bad hire adds up quickly when you consider:

  • Time spent hiring and onboarding
  • Time spent on performance management
  • Company reputation risk
  • Potential risk to coworkers and customers
  • Turnover costs

Luckily for employers, the risk of a bad hire can be reduced with a thorough hiring and screening process. With different background check options, how do you choose the right one for your business? It depends on the information you need and how much time and money you’re willing to spend.

What Background Checks Show

Pre-employment screening is an essential tool for businesses of all sizes. Screening helps you make better-informed hiring decisions that can protect your company, your employees, your customers, and your reputation. So what exactly should a background check show? It depends on the position.

When it comes to the safety of your employees and customers, criminal and sex offender records should be inspected where appropriate. If the candidate in question will have access to confidential information, a felony record check could be a priority.

While prior employment and education verification can be completed without a background check service, many small businesses don’t have direct access to credit-based tools. Pre-employment screening services can indicate a job candidate’s fiscal responsibility, trustworthiness, criminal past and more.

There are three types of pre-employment screening services to choose from: traditional background checks, online DIY background checks, and pre-employment screening services.

Traditional employment background check companies are designed to offer several screening options. A traditional background check company may provide information about the following:

  • Misdemeanor and felony criminal records
  • Sex offender status
  • Social Security Number validation
  • Employment verification
  • Education verification
  • License verification
  • Credit reports
  • Motor vehicle records
  • Military records
  • Address history

While these types of checks are thorough, they can also be time consuming and costly. Using a traditional background check company could mean waiting anywhere from days to weeks for results. In the meantime, your open position will remain vacant, potentially resulting in significant losses in productivity. You will also often spend more for the additional research and interviews that can be required in these types of checks.

Traditional Background Check Companies May Not Be the Best Fit for a Small Business

For many small business owners, traditional background check services provide more information than necessary. While it’s important to get a comprehensive view of your candidate, these checks may require spending time and money on additional reports, research, and details that may not be necessary.

One of the most time-consuming checks that may be performed in this type of screening is a manual county-level criminal record search. This type of search requires a person to physically visit a courthouse to check county-level criminal records and can take as long as 30 days to return results. In most cases, an instant criminal search is cheaper, quicker, and generally comprehensive enough to meet the screening needs of a small business.

Bottom Line: Traditional background checks can provide a thorough look at a job candidate’s history. However, these services can be time consuming, costly, and provide more information than necessary for a small business.

Some employers opt to use free online people search databases to retrieve background information on their applicants. This option may be convenient and free, but may not be reliable enough for hiring decisions.

Depending on the site, you may receive information including:

  • Sexual assault offenses
  • History of bankruptcies
  • Judgments
  • Address history
  • Marriage records

It’s difficult to verify the information provided on these websites is correct. Basing your hiring decision on inaccurate or inconclusive information can result in a bad hire that causes more trouble down the road.

Bottom Line: While online background check websites may be convenient, their information may not be reliable enough for hiring decisions.

One of the quickest ways for many small business owners to run a reliable background check is through an online employment screening service like TransUnion ShareAble for Hires. ShareAble for Hires allows you to check comprehensive credit and criminal reports within minutes and verify your applicant’s identity so you know they are who they say they are.

Information is pulled from a variety of sources to create a comprehensive view of a candidate’s background. The ShareAble for Hires database contains nearly 300 million national and state criminal records, Most Wanted databases, and the Sex Offender Public Registry. You get access within minutes to information potentially including:

  • Credit reports from TransUnion, a trusted credit reporting agency
  • Identity verification
  • Felony and misdemeanor records for 46 states*
  • Records from the FBI, Homeland Security, and DEA
  • National Sex Offender Public Registry records

Accuracy is imperative when screening candidates, but it can be tricky if your candidate has a common name. ShareAble for Hires’ advanced record matching capabilities increase correct matches and reduce inaccurate records.

How to Use ShareAble for Hires Pre-Employment Screening

Using ShareAble for Hires is easy. Simply create a free account and send a screening invitation to your job applicant’s email address. Once your applicant has created an account and verified their identity, the reports are sent to you within minutes. The entire process is conducted online, and all reports are maintained on the employer dashboard for easy access.

ShareAble for Hires’ pay-per-use pricing is a great option for small business owners who don’t do a large volume of screening. There are no minimums, no memberships, and no hidden fees, which helps keep your hiring costs low.


Bottom Line: Online screening services like ShareAble for Hires give you fast and affordable access to essential background information that helps protect your business.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Employment Screening

When screening a potential new hire, there are certain processes you’ll want to follow to ensure you’re getting the best quality candidate. Below is an overview of the do’s and don’ts to keep in mind during screening.


  • Be consistent with background check policies.
  • Follow local laws governing the use of background checks for employment.
  • Give prospective tenants the opportunity to clear up mistakes or misunderstandings.
  • Utilize background check services that are FCRA-compliant.
  • Understand the difference between consumer reports and reference checks.


  • Don't change your background check policies on a candidate-by-candidate basis.
  • Don't ask about a candidate’s character when checking employment references.


There are several pre-employment screening services to consider, but small business owners stand to benefit from a convenient, reliable, online screening service such as ShareAble for Hires. ShareAble for Hires delivers fast, reliable, and comprehensive results with credit and criminal reports and identity verification. You get results in minutes so you have the data you need to make a well-informed decision fast.

*Instant criminal results not available for Wyoming, Delaware, South Dakota, and Massachusetts.

Senior Marketing Analyst, TransUnion ShareAble

Andrea Collatz

She focuses on topics that empower small business owners through data, insights and industry best practices.