Global Background Checks: Creating an Efficient Program

August 14, 2019 Andrew Hellman


When it comes to screening candidates, it is important to consider conducting global background checks. Screening your employees regardless of where they have lived or worked helps mitigate risk within the workplace. However, creating an organized global screening program can come across as a daunting and complex process if a program is not already in place. An experienced provider can address your concerns and simplify the process so that it is not much more difficult than screening in the U.S.

If your company has an existing program and is looking to expand screening outside of the U.S., this blog will help you get started in understanding and building a global program.

Getting Started: Where do your candidates come from?

A first step in initiating global checks is having knowledge of where your candidates have lived and/or worked. Every country has specific guidelines for processing background checks. Understanding which countries your candidates come from most often will help you determine the most important aspects of your global screening program. You may find that you have a high concentration of candidates coming from a single country, quickly helping you prioritize where to start.   In addition, providing this information to your screening provider allows them to follow the appropriate processes based on each country’s requirements.

Screening Thoroughly

Ignoring the non-U.S. history of a candidate can quickly create a work environment where candidates have not been thoroughly screened and may result in missing information, such as derogatory information or criminal activity.  Although there may be concerns about the complexity of global screening, or data privacy issues, it is always best practice to make sure all candidates are screened appropriately. It is best practice to screen candidates applying for the same position with the same depth and breadth of checks, as much as local law will allow.  Many countries outside of the U.S.  have stricter requirements related to background screening due to privacy laws.  In addition, background screening may not be as common in the employment process as it is in the U.S., which may result in some information being more difficult to obtain. Learning about the differences in each country and making sure you are collecting as much of this information as possible will help you thoroughly screen your candidates.

Criminal History Outside of the U.S.

Some screening processes are set up differently outside of the U.S. For instance, when checking criminal history over a specific period, such as seven years of address history, you may need to check multiple counties in the U.S. In other countries, however, a single search may suffice, or you may also need to run multiple checks as in the U.S. Making sure you and your background check provider have the necessary steps in place to capture all necessary information for the criminal history component will help ensure important information was not missed.

Additionally, the type of criminal history you receive may differ from the criminal history you would see in the U.S.  When it comes time to screen for criminal history, be sure to have a process in place that defines how your company will handle any records found on candidates. While you may have a very thorough adjudication or hiring criteria defined for the U.S., it may not be relevant for non-U.S. criminal history for several reasons.  First, the charge levels outside the U.S. can be different and won’t necessarily align to misdemeanor or felony. Additionally, the descriptions of charges may not always be as clear, requiring additional work to understand the charge. An experienced provider with a strong global network can assist you with this complexity.

Candidate Experience

The candidate experience for global screening is more complex than the U.S. as it requires more data from the candidate, document collection, and typically longer processing timelines.  Additional data may include address history, family names, additional documentation and consent forms. The average timeline to complete a global check typically takes longer than the U.S., frequently averaging 5-10 days.

With all of this in mind, when moving forward with a global screening program, it’s essential to work with a reputable provider who can walk you through the process to ensure that your screening program runs successfully and smoothly.

*The information provided above is strictly for educational purposes. It is not intended to be legal advice, either expressed or implied. Accurate Background recommends that you consult with your legal counsel regarding all employment regulations. 

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