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Who Will You Hire? How Background Checks Improve the Hiring Process

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The hiring process is challenging for many reasons, especially when trying to find the right candidate to fill a specific role. Many people lie on resumes and even provide fake references just to get a job. When it comes to your business, you want to make sure that you don’t waste valuable time, money, and resources on picking the wrong hire. It’s why you should (if you haven’t already) consider hiring a private investigator to run background checks on potential hires. 

Working with a private investigator for your background check needs will only help you to avoid short-term headaches and improve the hiring process for long-term gains. Today, let’s explore the essentials of this process, including how to prepare for a background check as an employer to ensure a private investigator has all the details they need.

What is a Background Check for Employment Purposes?

A background check is something an employer can request when hiring employees to fill a particular position. They are especially important when it comes to the following fundamental aspects of your operations, which may or may not be addressed depending on the type of check you have done:

  • Security and employee/guest safety
  • Operational efficiency and employee competency (in other words, ensuring you hire the right people for jobs with danger elements, such as a forklift operator role)
  • Data privacy and minimizing the risk of internal fraud
  • Employee personality/work ethic/character
  • Regulatory compliance and certification
  • Criminal background and other potential violations like bad driving
  • Employee experience (previous employers) 

Why Background Checks for Employees Matter

Getting a background check done, especially one that goes beyond the surface-level basics of an employee’s history, is a smart precaution to take. Giving a candidate the benefit of the doubt or not digging deep enough runs the risk of having trouble with them later on, especially if they’re good at lying about certain details or covering their trails. 

It’s important to consider that it’s harder for folks to find work than ever, and even if they’re experienced, dozens of others may be vying for the same position. Therefore, some applicants (though certainly not all) may be either colouring the truth or hiding aspects of their background that lower their chances of getting the job. This can also include lying about having certain certifications required for specialized work, which could then result in your company being punished both legally and financially if you hire them. 

What Does an Employment Background Check Include?

Depending on what is being checked, there may be different processes involved in completing a specific background check. For instance, some are straightforward as a simple record check, such as to verify your SIN number. Other times, more thorough digging is required, possibly necessary when an applicant is hiding a dark chapter of their past that they don’t want their next employer to know about.

As an employer, you deserve to have absolute peace of mind, and every employer-employee relationship should be built on some semblance of trust. Therefore, it’s best to get an employment background check done by an experienced private investigator who is certified to do so, as they’ll know what to inspect based on the position and operations in question. 

Perhaps you’re wondering, “so what does a standard background check include, anyway?” It’s perfectly understandable if you’re unsure of the specifics, especially if you’ve never done this before. A private investigator can examine an employee’s past history for information including the following:


Many positions require specific credentials, degrees, and accreditations. When hiring, an employer will want to confirm that the potential candidate has the right skills to get the job done. Otherwise, they risk the employee endangering themselves or others in certain applications. Not only that, but any governing bodies under which you need to maintain compliance may punish your company for violating certain terms. Compliance violations should be avoided at all costs as they hurt your brand image, jeopardize funding and approval to carry out certain processes within your operations that require certification, and more. 

Criminal Record

A criminal record can prevent people from getting particular jobs. For example, let’s say that a local high school is looking to hire a teacher who is new to the area. Running a thorough background check on this teacher reveals that they were fired from their previous job because of an inappropriate relationship with a student. This is a situation where a criminal record would definitely impact the hiring of this teacher. 

Previous Employment

Many people like to embellish their past employment. While a little white lie doesn’t hurt, when an employer is looking to hire someone with specific experience, it’s important that the candidate can actually deliver. Employers don’t want to waste time second-guessing whether or not that ten-year appointment working at a specific forensics’ lab is real or fake. Therefore, running a background check to confirm previous employment will prove that the candidate is honest and that they are capable of completing assigned tasks.

Vehicle & License History

Some jobs require an employee to drive a vehicle. An employer should not hire an individual to drive a vehicle if they do not actually have the right license. In some situations, a potential hire might even have had their license revoked. A background check will confirm the validity and status of an individual’s license. In some cases, a hire will need to have this information checked on a regular basis. 

Other information that an employer might request in a background check include, 

  • Medical Records (although some information must remain confidential)
  • Social Media Accounts
  • Credit History
  • Work Authorization

Why Run Background Checks on Potential Employees?

Most people don’t lie about their experience or work history. However, some people don’t have a problem adding previous work experience at companies where they never actually worked. In other cases, some individuals like to make it appear as though they delivered on impossible promises. While it’s often easy to tell whether someone is lying in a job interview, sometimes it’s not. Therefore, employers should run background checks on potential employees. After all, the hiring process is difficult. A lot of time, training and money goes into bringing in a new employee. Running a background check to make sure that the right candidate is hired for the job is often just common sense. 

If you start to make background checks a part of your hiring process, you will immediately see the benefits. A good check will weed out the candidates you don’t want. These should put your mind at ease because you will know with more certainty that the person you hire will do a good job. At the end of the day, the value of peace of mind is worth its weight in gold. 

How Long Does a Background Check Take?

This really depends on how much grunt work is needed on behalf of the private investigator. If there’s ample detail to consult from the get-go and not much left open to guesswork, the process can take as little as two to three business days. However, for more thorough checks that cover a lot of ground and/or if we find discrepancies that mean more digging is required to get to the bottom of things, it may take upwards of several days longer. We’ll be able to give you an idea of the timeframe once we know how much information there is to work with. 

Background Checks & Private Investigators

When it comes to background checks, employers should turn to private investigators for help. The reason for this is because a private investigator is trained in background check work. Compared to most people, a private investigator knows where to look and how to search for information that impacts a hiring decision. 

A private investigator also knows how to obtain this information legally. Why is this important? Well, bear in mind that as an employer in Canada, you are required by law to receive written consent from the applicant to have the background check in question performed. Not only that, but you also need to be acting reasonably within said consent, meaning you shouldn’t go overboard and end up snooping on private details that aren’t your concern. There’s a fine balance to strike, which is why turning to an experienced private investigator who operates fully within established laws and regulations is crucial, as they’ll only operate in a legally compliant manner. 

Background Checks for Employment in Canada: What’s Legal?

When it comes to the hiring process in Canada, a private investigator isn’t legally allowed to include certain information on a background check. For example, they can’t go through a potential hire’s garbage or recycling to discover current financial information. As noted above, a fully legally compliant approach is crucial.

The aforementioned written consent from the potential hire to run a background check requires several things of you as the employer. For starters, they must be aware that the terms and conditions of the job require a successful background check. In Canada, an employer must also ensure that the background check is job-related. This means that you shouldn’t have a private investigator run a background check on a potential or current hire for personal use. It is also illegal for an employer to ask for different information from two or more potential hires. All background checks must relate to the same information for all prospective candidates.  

How to Prepare for a Background Check as an Employer

Something we don’t see discussed often is precisely how to prepare for a background check as an employer. After all, what is the private investigator going to need from you in order to start searching? Above all else, we’ll need the applicant’s written consent for a background check as mentioned earlier. Other details that help include a copy of their resume and cover letter (for reference purposes only), which should include their name and details regarding their background to help us get started. In addition, should they have provided information in an online application portal, this would be handy as well. A good private investigator will consult with the employer client to verify that they have all the details needed to run a thorough, legally compliant check that leaves nothing to chance.

Hire the Right Candidate and Improve Your Hiring Process

If you are an employer looking to make some hiring decisions, why not ask a private investigator for help? Working with one will improve your hiring process and ensure that you hire the right candidate the first time. After all, you have better things to do with your time. Not only that, but our experienced and knowledgeable team is happy to provide comprehensive insights and recommendations via our findings. These can ensure that you’ll make the most informed possible decision regarding any specific applicants. It might even be possible to fill multiple roles more quickly, reduce the need (and cost) for specialized training if an applicant indeed already has it, and otherwise! 

In general, background checks for employees make hiring a breeze because it gives you the information you need to trust the person you’re hiring. As a result, background checks significantly improve the hiring process, giving you back the time and energy you need to run your company with greater efficiency.  

Do you need help with your hiring process? Curious to know more about background check services? Don’t delay! Contact us today to speak with one of our professional private investigators:

About the Author

Whitney Joy Smith

Founder of The Smith Investigation Agency in 2014, Whitney Joy Smith’s extensive background as a private investigator is matched only by her passion for the role. A graduate of several respected institutions, including Northwest Florida State College and George Brown College, her early years in life were spent between Canada and the United States. This education, along with her formative years as a private investigator in various agencies, informed much of her knowledge of private investigative laws, regulations, and operating standards in both countries.

The recipient of numerous industry awards and accolades, including the Consumers Choice Award, Best in Ottawa, and many others, Whitney takes pride in working closely with her ever-growing agency to raise the bar, maintain compliance, and meet the investigative needs of clients. Whitney is active in various membership and supporting roles, including the CPIRC, CBN, CAPI, Canadian Women’s Chamber of Commerce, and many others. Her experience-driven, thought-provoking articles have been featured in everything from Readers Digest to Business News Daily, and she strives to continually redefine standards for those in the private investigative and security fields. Learn more about Whitney and the team at The Smith Investigation Agency today.

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