When it comes to hiring new employees, two important steps in the process are often the background check and the reference check. While both serve to validate an applicant’s qualifications and suitability for a role, they are distinct in their purpose and what they reveal about the candidate. Understanding these differences can help employers make informed hiring decisions.
What Is a Background Check?
A background check is an investigation into an individual’s history. It typically includes verification of education and employment history, criminal records, credit history, and even driving records. The main goal of a background check is to ensure that the potential employee has been truthful in their application and does not have any undisclosed issues that could negatively impact their job performance or the company’s reputation.
Background checks are usually performed by a third-party agency and are regulated by laws such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) in the U.S. This means, among other things, that employers must obtain the candidate’s consent before conducting a background check.
A thorough background check helps employers mitigate risks associated with negligent hiring, workplace violence, and resume fraud.
What Is a Reference Check?
On the other hand, a reference check involves contacting individuals who can vouch for the candidate’s skills, behavior, and overall work ethic. These references are often previous employers, coworkers, or anyone else who has had a professional relationship with the candidate.
During a reference check, questions might revolve around the candidate’s responsibilities in their previous roles, their strengths and weaknesses, reasons for leaving their past jobs, and whether the former employer would rehire them. Reference checks are less about verifying factual information and more about getting a sense of the candidate’s character, competence, and suitability for the role.
While both processes are essential, they serve different purposes. Background checks are primarily about verification and risk mitigation. They are a way for employers to independently verify the information provided by a candidate and to uncover potential red flags.
Reference checks, however, provide a more subjective and personal perspective on the candidate. They allow potential employers to gain insights into a candidate’s work style, interpersonal skills, and past job performance that might not be evident from their resume or interview.
Wrapping It Up
In conclusion, both background checks and reference checks are vital tools in the hiring process. While they may seem similar, they offer different perspectives on a potential employee. A background check provides a factual overview of a candidate’s past, while a reference check offers a more personal insight into their character and work ethic.
By understanding the difference between these two checks, employers can gather a well-rounded view of candidates, helping them to make informed hiring decisions. This not only ensures the selection of the right person for the job but also contributes to the overall success and productivity of the workplace.
Plexus Global: Hire Safely With Knowledge
Plexus Global is a California-based background screening company serving organizations all over the U.S. and abroad.