Understanding Pre-Employment Background Checks - Insights for Job Seekers and Employers

Pre-employment background checks are a critical component of the hiring process, serving as a safeguard for organizations and employees alike. While some may perceive these checks as invasive or judgmental, their primary purpose is to ensure a safe and secure work environment.

By verifying the accuracy of a candidate's resume and assessing their history, employers can make informed decisions that protect the organization from potential risks such as fraud, theft, or workplace violence. These checks help maintain a trustworthy workforce and foster a culture of integrity and accountability. In essence, pre-employment background checks are not about casting judgment, but about upholding the safety and well-being of all stakeholders involved.

In this blog, various topics will be discussed so you can get a deeper idea about pre-employment background checks. This article will include:

  • Importance of Pre-Employment Screening
  • Duration of Pre-Empl oyment Background Checks
  • Employment History Verification in the Philippines
  • Common Reasons for Failing a Background Check

Importance of Pre-Employment Screening

Why Pre-Employment Screening is Crucial for Employers

Pre-employment screening helps employers find the best candidates. It ensures that new hires have the right skills and background for the job. This process can prevent future problems by catching any red flags early.

Employers save time and money by hiring the right person from the start. Without proper screening, companies might hire someone who isn’t a good fit, leading to high turnover rates. Screening helps create a safer and more productive workplace.

Benefits for Both Employers and Job Seekers

For employers, pre-employment screening reduces the risk of hiring someone who might cause issues. It ensures that the person they hire is trustworthy and capable. This leads to a better working environment and more successful teams.

Job seekers also benefit from pre-employment screening. It helps match them with jobs that suit their skills and qualifications. This means they are more likely to succeed and be happy in their new roles.

Why Employers Need to Do Pre-Employment Tests

Pre-employment tests give employers a clear idea of a candidate’s abilities. These tests can check for skills, personality traits, and even honesty. This helps employers choose the best person for the job.

Tests can also show how well a candidate will fit into the company culture. This is important because a good fit leads to better teamwork and job satisfaction. By using these tests, employers can build stronger, more effective teams.

Duration of Pre-Employment Background Checks

The duration of pre-employment background checks can vary significantly, ranging from a few minutes to several months. This wide range is due to several factors, including the comprehensiveness of the check, the industry and job position, and specific applicant history.

Factors Influencing the Duration of Background Checks

1. Level of Comprehensive Background Check

The scope of the background check is a primary determinant of its duration. Basic checks, which may include verifying identity and reviewing a simple criminal history, can often be completed in a matter of minutes to a few days. More comprehensive checks, which might involve detailed employment history, educational verification, financial records, and in-depth criminal background investigations, can extend the process to several weeks or even months.

2. Industry and Job Position

The industry and specific job positions also influence how long a background check takes. For example:

  • Healthcare and Education: These sectors often require extensive checks due to the sensitive nature of the work and the populations served. Verifying licenses, and certifications, and conducting thorough criminal background checks are standard, which can prolong the process.
  • Financial Services: Jobs in finance typically involve detailed scrutiny of an applicant’s financial history and regulatory compliance, necessitating a more extended background check period.
  • Government and Security: Positions that require security clearances or access to classified information usually involve the longest background checks, often taking several months due to the need for rigorous vetting and potentially a series of interviews.

3. Manual vs. Automated/Outsourced Checks

The method of conducting background checks also affects their duration. Automated checks and those outsourced to specialized background screening companies are generally faster. These entities have established processes and access to databases that streamline the verification process. In contrast, manual checks, which may involve direct contact with previous employers, educational institutions, or other entities, tend to be slower due to the need for individual follow-ups and the potential for delays in receiving responses.

4. Applicant's History

An applicant’s personal history can significantly impact the time required for a background check. Factors include:

  • Previous Records: If an applicant has a criminal record, even if minor, additional time may be needed to gather all relevant details and evaluate the context and implications.
  • Multiple Locations: Applicants who have lived or worked in multiple locations can face longer background checks as each location’s records must be individually reviewed. This often involves coordination with various local agencies and institutions, further extending the timeline.

Understanding the factors that influence the duration of pre-employment background checks is essential for both employers and applicants. While the process can sometimes be expedited, thoroughness should not be compromised, especially for positions that carry significant responsibilities or require high levels of trust and security.

Employers should communicate clearly with applicants about expected timelines, and applicants should be prepared for potential delays, especially if their background involves multiple complexities. Ultimately, a comprehensive and accurate background check process is crucial for making informed hiring decisions and ensuring a safe and trustworthy workplace. Source: Linkedin

Employment History Verification in the Philippines

In the Philippines, employers have the authority to verify an applicant's employment history. This process is not only common but also supported by the absence of any prohibitive rules in the Philippine Labor Code regarding background checks.

Can an employer verify your employment history in the Philippines?

According to the Philippine Labor Code, there are no restrictions that prevent companies from conducting background checks on prospective employees. This means that employers are free to verify various aspects of an applicant’s background, which typically include:

  1. Employment History. Employers often request a Certificate of Employment (COE) from previous employers to confirm an applicant’s past job roles, tenure, and performance.
  2. Criminal Records. Obtaining clearances from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to ensure that the applicant has no criminal record is a standard practice.
  3. Educational Background. Verification of educational qualifications through diplomas and academic transcripts.
  4. Other Relevant Documents. Depending on the job, additional documentation may be required to substantiate the applicant’s credentials and suitability for the position.

Situations Warranting Detailed Background Checks

Paper documents offer a level of immediate accessibility unmatched by digital files that might require booting up a computer. Additionally, some people find focusing and comprehending information is easier when done on paper, away from the distractions of a digital screen.

While background checks are generally advisable for most job positions, they become particularly crucial in specific scenarios:

  1. Interacting with Vulnerable Groups. For jobs that involve working closely with children, the elderly, or other vulnerable populations, thorough background checks help ensure the safety and well-being of these individuals.
  2. Safety-Sensitive Positions. Roles that involve significant safety risks necessitate meticulous background verification. Examples include.
    • Driving Heavy Vehicles. Ensuring the driver has a clean record and the necessary experience.
    • Handling Explosives or Hazardous Materials. Confirming the individual’s qualifications and history of compliance with safety regulations.
    • Construction Work. Verifying previous experience and adherence to safety standards to prevent accidents.
  3. High-Risk Sectors. In industries where employees handle sensitive information or have access to financial resources, such as:
    • Business Process Outsourcing (BPO). Given the access to personal data and confidential information.
    • Banking. Due to the direct handling of financial transactions and customer data.
    • Information Technology (IT). Where cybersecurity is paramount, and access to critical systems needs stringent control.
  4. Methods used to verify employment history

Step-by-Step Guide on Conducting Background Checks in the Philippines

Here is the detailed but simple guide on how to conduct a background check in the Philippines.

1. Plan Your Background Check Process

First, decide what information you need to check. Common areas include criminal records, employment history, education verification, and character references. Make sure your plan complies with Philippine laws and regulations, including the Data Privacy Act.

Next, get permission from the job candidate. You need their written consent to conduct a background check. This ensures you respect their privacy and legal rights.

2. Verify Employment History

Contact previous employers to confirm the candidate’s work history. Check job titles, dates of employment, and reasons for leaving. This helps ensure that the candidate has been honest about their experience.

Ask for details about the candidate’s performance and reliability. Previous employers can provide valuable insights into the candidate’s work habits and character.

3. Check Educational Background

Verify the candidate’s educational qualifications. Contact schools and universities to confirm degrees and certifications. This step ensures that the candidate has the necessary education for the job.

Make sure to check the authenticity of the documents provided. Fake diplomas and certificates are not uncommon, so thorough verification is crucial.

4. Conduct Criminal Background Checks

Request a National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) clearance from the candidate. The NBI clearance will show any criminal records or pending cases. This is important for ensuring the candidate’s trustworthiness.

In some cases, you might also need a police clearance. This can provide additional information about the candidate’s background and help ensure safety in the workplace.

5. Check Character References

Ask the candidate for personal and professional references. Contact these references to learn more about the candidate’s character and behavior. Good references can provide a more complete picture of the candidate.

Prepare a list of questions to ask the references. Focus on the candidate’s reliability, teamwork, and any areas of concern you might have.

6. Review Social Media Profiles

Check the candidate’s social media profiles, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Look for any public posts or information that might impact their suitability for the job. This can include unprofessional behavior, offensive language, or any other red flags.

Ensure you respect the candidate’s privacy while conducting this review. Focus only on publicly available information and avoid delving into private messages or restricted posts.

7. Review the Results

Once you have all the information, review it carefully. Compare the findings with the candidate’s resume and interview responses. Look for any discrepancies or areas that need further clarification.

Make your final decision based on the complete background check. Ensure that all findings are documented and stored securely, in compliance with data privacy laws.

8. Prepare a Summary of the Findings

Once the background check is complete, compile a summary of the findings. Highlight any areas of concern as well as positive aspects. Make sure the summary is clear and accurate.

Be ready to provide explanations for any decisions made based on the background check. This transparency helps build trust and ensures fairness in the hiring process.

8. Prepare a Summary of the Findings

Inform the candidate about the results of the background check. If the results are positive and you decide to hire them, congratulate them and outline the next steps in the hiring process.
If there are issues that affect their application, discuss these findings with the candidate.

Give them an opportunity to explain or provide additional information. This step ensures fairness and allows the candidate to address any potential misunderstandings.

Source: Deel Website

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Common Reasons for Failing a Background Check

Let’s now check the common reasons why an applicant may fail the background check. We’ll discuss typical reasons and who usually fails the investigation.

Who Fails an Employment Background Check?

Candidates can fail a background check for various reasons. This often happens when the information they provide doesn't match the findings of the background check. Inconsistencies in their employment history, education, or other key areas can lead to failure.

Another reason for failing a background check is the discovery of negative information. This can include criminal records, poor job performance in previous roles, or other red flags that raise concerns about the candidate's suitability for the job.

Typical Reasons for Failure

One common reason for failing a background check is having a criminal record. Employers are often cautious about hiring individuals with a history of criminal activity, especially if it relates to job responsibilities. Even minor offenses can be a cause for concern, depending on the nature of the job.

False information on a resume or job application is another major reason for failure. This can include lying about educational qualifications, work experience, or other important details. When candidates provide false information, it damages trust and raises doubts about their honesty and integrity.


We hope that you get useful information regarding conducting a pre-employment background check. Just to recap, we should always put importance on background checks. As an employer, it could be a gateway to hire the best candidate, and for the applicant, it could be the gateway to job satisfaction.

We also listed above the steps on how to conduct a background check, which will guide employers on how to conduct a thorough investigation.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us. And if you need a system that can manage your employees and automate payroll, just let us know.

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