Never Judge a Book by Its Cover: The Case for Criminal Record Checks

When it comes to selecting a suitable candidate to work for the organisation, dulging a little deeper than purely the face value should be a commonplace process.

Criminal record check for employees

So why is a background check needed?

Criminal record checks or a national police certificate are available to most recruiters and HR workers. Employers in the modern era have the right to learn more about the new prospective hire that they are about to commit into a legal relationship with by way of a formal job contract.

There is also the responsibility to make sure that a new hire does not have anything in their past that could potentially harm the organisation or establish a safety hazard for clients of the company and other workers.

Let’s get to some cold hard statistics: Figures from the Bureau of Justice Statistics – Workplace Violence demonstrate that from 1993 to the year 2009, 570,000+ non-fatal criminal offences occurred in U.S. workplaces within just one year. Yes you heard that correct, one year! Furthermore, the majority of the victims in these statistics were other employees and acquaintances of the persons that committed the offence.

It can be argued that in many of the instances, the violence may have been prevented by conducting a criminal record check or some other background check to determine if any potential new hires had criminal history or other items that would enable a work environment that is unsafe for their colleagues and the greater organization.

So why do we need background checks in HR?

Well that is a good question. Let’s start off with the root of the problem. In a highly competitive job market (particularly in metropolitan cities), persons are more considered more likely to embellish or hide some aspects of their record or histories in an attempt to appear favourable to the employer or HR recruiter. Whilst a number these attempts would be obvious to an experienced HR manager, not all will be identified until the police check or other type of background check actually occurs. A background check can include some or all of these elements. It depends on the organization:

  • educational verification prior to interviews taking place
  • Work history prior to interviews taking place
  • National police clearance before a formal offer is made.


Recruiters may sometimes be amazed at what gets uncovered. For example, if you are recruiting someone as a delivery driver, someone who has had frequent instances of driving irresponsibly (e.g. drink driving) may not be the ideal candidate they would like to have at the company. Recruiters should at least have a clearer understanding of the candidate that they are looking for.

Candidate screening

Still need a better understanding of why screening candidates is important?

There are other reasons as well why screening new hires should always be a standard process of the recruitment stages in all firms.

Background screening checks can be an important tool for selecting the correct job candidate. When used in a consistent manner, and with a reliable background check company, this relatively simple step can remove a number of future issues for the organisation.

As a HR manager or worker, it is essential to making sure that a candidate meets the requirements of the assignments that are given to them and that the ROI – return on investment, will be a good one for the organisation.

Wrapping up

So wrapping up, there is a need to ensure candidates are screened to make sure that the credentials listed are accurate for the needs of the work and task at hand

Secondly, workplaces will know the candidate is who he or she is actually representing.