Should You Run Background Checks on Potential Employees?

As a small business owner, it is important to have a trustworthy and dedicated staff working for you. However, how can you determine a potential candidate’s trustworthiness? One emerging trend suggests that conducting background checks is a good way to screen potential candidates for employment.

There are several important factors to consider when determining whether or not you should run background checks on potential employees.

Bad Apples

People make bad choices. They also learn from their mistakes and have the capacity to change. If you choose to conduct background checks on potential employees, be aware of charges or criminal activity that occurred when the potential employee was still on the brink of youth. One instance of a minor in possession of alcohol at age 19 does not indicate that a candidate is incapable of becoming a valued contributor in your organization. Multiple substance abuse charges, however, might be an indication of a bad apple.

Weighing the Cost

Depending on the depth and breadth of analysis, a typical background check might cost you $30-$50 per employee. This adds up if you have a moderate sized staff, or if you need to screen and hire several people at the same time.

However, consider the cost to your organization if you unknowingly hire an individual with a background that includes several counts of shoplifting. If that employee works for a period of three months before they are caught stealing from the company, the total amount in merchandise that your company has the potential to lose is far greater than $30-$50.


Your perception of a potential employee with an impressive academic background, resume and excellent references may take new shape following a background check. If an individual seems to be the ideal candidate, barring certain discrepancies in the background check, it is important to exercise discretion.

Do not be afraid to ask the employee to provide further details regarding the information gathered from the background check. An articulate and responsible candidate should be able to explain the situation(s) in detail while simultaneously expressing an appropriate emotion (remorse, a lesson learned, etc.).

Background checks can be valuable tools, but the ink on the paper cannot tell someone’s personal story. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and probe further while searching for the ideal employee.

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