Top tips for background checks when hiring in the Middle East

The basic steps you should take to ensure you’re making the right hire for your company



A talented team of employees can be the spark that makes a good company stellar. But any one of those employees also has the potential to slam the brakes on that rise to greatness.
You can’t run a company without people, so how can you increase your odds of hiring the best of the best?

An employment background check programme is a way to gain confidence that the people you’re thinking about hiring really do have all the great qualifications they claim to have, and that there’s not some skeleton possibly lurking in a closet somewhere. Background checks can help to facilitate a safer workplace, staffed by qualified employees. Below are our top tips to get your employment checks right.

Decide when and whom to check, and for what

Numerous subsets of screening services may be included in an employment background check.

Which ones you choose will depend on a whole host of variables, including the nature of your industry, nature of your business, what kind of role you’re hiring for, where in the corporate hierarchy that role falls, and your organisation’s level of risk tolerance. Beyond that, you should be mindful of the laws and regulations affecting your organisation.

When you’re in the process of hiring and sorting through a group of potential candidates, you clearly want to be as thorough and careful as possible. But if your organisation is like most, you may not have the expertise and resources to dive deeply into each candidate’s background.

Fortunately, you’re not in this alone. You can contract with a background check company to handle the screening, allowing you to focus your attention on the other attributes of the hiring process. Pick the right screening company, and you’ll have a partner who will get a background check performed to meet your screening requirements — whether you’re seeking to fill a job in your own location or on the other side of the world.

Know the components of a background check

When you’re planning a background check, there’s quite a menu of services from which to choose, including:
• Criminal record checks
• Motor vehicle records
• Identity Checks
• CV verifications
• Personal finance integrity check
• Extended workforce screenings
• Executive screenings

Who can benefit from background checks?

The bottom line is that when they’re done properly, background checks can help ensure the integrity, fairness, and consistency of the hiring process. That’s good for those doing the hiring, of course, but it also benefits honest candidates who are playing by the rules and giving employers an accurate picture of themselves and their qualifications.

A well-designed programme of background screening helps to facilitate a level playing field for those who truly deserve to be in the game. It helps those doing the hiring to make their decisions in a more consistent manner, and that added level of fairness is a plus for candidates.

Understand how background check processes and timelines work

The process of checking out someone’s background looks pretty simple in the movies and on TV, where investigators plug a name into a database and retrieve a long list of relevant information about the person being checked. But this fiction is far from the reality.

With data stored in so many places, in so many forms and formats, and with so many different means of access, it’s likely to remain a complex business for quite some time yet.

Fortunately for employers, background-checking companies are well versed in the protocols necessary to secure a background check that meets your organisation’s screening needs. There are many sources of information that you may want to consider when conducting a background check.

Consistency is important when conducting background checks, but that doesn’t mean there’s just one kind of background check. The list of factors that can help organisations determine the type and scope of the background check that’s right for them is long.

Just as there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ background check, there’s a wide variation in the timeline of the check depending on what you’re checking. Generally speaking, a typical check in EMEA may take two to three weeks, but some aspects of the process can take longer, depending on individual circumstances.

Setting a policy on background checks

There are many different considerations that you’ll want to keep in mind as you create and implement a screening policy. Some things you may want to define include: who will be screened, when screenings will be used, and how results will be interpreted. You may also want your policy to clearly state what you’ll do when you decide to disqualify a candidate.
In the absence of a written policy it can be easy to be inadvertently inconsistent, which is not only unfair but could be legally unwise.

Your company is unique, so your policy will be, too. Your policy may set forth different rules for different roles and will need to comply with the various local and national laws governing the use of screenings for employment purposes, so your legal counsel should be involved in the policymaking process too.

Finding the right vendor

Just as you’d likely call an asphalt paving company to repair your company’s car park, or an IT-focused marketing company to design your company’s website, you may decide that it’s best to leave background checks to the experts. How do you make that determination?

If you’ve decided to engage a third-party resource to provide background check solutions to your organisation, your next steps are to evaluate and pick a vendor that meets your organisation’s needs.

Informing and preparing candidates for screenings

Candidates should be well informed and prepared for background checks. It’s a sometimes complicated process – and it’s in everyone’s best interest if job candidates fully understand what’s going on.

Background checks don’t have to be a totally passive activity for candidates. It’s possible for them to prepare, and it’s wise to help them do so. How can they prepare? You may want to consider advising candidates to do the following:

• Ensure that their CVs are up-to-date, with full and accurate contact information so that they can easily refer to this information when completing their background check request.
• Get started on researching their own histories, including things that you may want to verify such as employment dates, job titles, and salaries.
• Gather diplomas and transcripts backing up their educational experiences and make files of pay-slips from past employers.
• Make lists of pertinent personal details, such as past addresses and current driver’s license numbers.

Integrating with applicant tracking systems

Applicant tracking systems can provide much-needed automation to the recruitment and hiring process, with valuable features like development of job requisitions, posting of job openings on identified websites, CV screening, designated communications with applicants, interview scheduling, and much more.

These features help recruiters better identify the most qualified candidates and reduce time-to-hire. A good online system not only provides real-time status information, but also offers the ability to either view or download the complete, final reports.

Employers generally do not assume that people applying for jobs are lying on their CVs and job applications – quite the contrary. The background check is often a final step taken by employers to help ensure a sound hiring decision and protect them and their employees from quite a few potential risks.

James Randall is regional manager at HireRight Middle East