International Background Screenings

Background screenings are an important component of safe and wise hiring practices. Advanced technologies and more accessible search options mean that organizations large and small can take advantage of the many benefits provided by pre-employment background checks. Additionally, these benefits aren’t limited to domestic hires; international employment background screenings are a viable option in situations where the candidate has lived or worked out of the country or when your business goes “global” and you need to hire outside the U.S.

Many background screening firms offer international screening services and can conduct checks in hundreds of countries around the world. For general employment purposes, three main types of screenings are conducted, all of which can also be done internationally. These include the following:

  • Education verification
  • Criminal history search
  • Employment verification

It’s essential to know, however, that international checks are substantially more complicated and involved than domestic checks. As a result, most organizations restrict the use of international screenings to senior roles or those positions that involve considerable responsibilities over material company assets.

Why are international checks more complicated?

  • Each country has its own laws regarding the collection and use of personal information.
  • Many countries prohibit third-party agencies from obtaining information, requiring the candidate to personally be involved in the process.
  • No centralized database exists; records must be checked in each individual country where the candidate lived, worked, or studied.
  • Many countries do not have searchable digital records at all. Information must be physically requested, necessitating “boots on the ground.”
  • Language and cultural barriers make communicating requests and results challenging.
  • Interpreting information discovered during an international background check requires inside knowledge of each country and its legal jargon.

Due to these and other constraints, international background checks can take a while to complete; you can expect anything from 10 days to even several months. And international checks cost more as well.

What information can you get from an international background check?

While global screenings are more complicated, more expensive, and more time-consuming than domestic checks, they are still a valuable part of good hiring practices. You can expect to get the following kinds of reliable information:

Criminal History

Your international screening partner can obtain information about a candidate’s criminal history by accessing the records in each applicable country. Agencies with international experience understand the laws of each jurisdiction, how to obtain the records, and how the information can be used.

Education Verification

Global agents will contact each school your applicant attended to verify education and other credentials. Many countries have laws that only allow the student to access this type of information, so your agency will provide the necessary paperwork and disclosures to make this happen.

Employment Verification

International screening agencies contact former employers to verify relevant work experience. Agencies with an extensive global reach have screeners who speak the language of the country and understand how to extract the right information.

The Bottom Line

Yes, international background checks are complicated and time-consuming, but the main things to remember are these:

  • International checks are possible with the right screening partner. Don’t try to do them on your own.
  • International checks are just as critical to the safety and health of your organization as purely domestic checks.

Protect your organization by conducting pre-employment checks on all potential new hires.