The world has undergone serious changes throughout 2020 due to the global pandemic known as Covid-19. Some of these changes relate to employment and recruitment. Background checks in particular have seen significant impact because people can no longer attend in-person interviews. We will be providing an overview of how the pandemic has changed background checks. 

History of the Background Check Process

In the past, the process of background checks was pretty simple. The candidate would apply for a job and then come in for an interview. If the employer was happy with them, they would ask permission to perform a routine background check. The employer would then utilize a third-party background check service such as Check People, or they would perform the task themselves. If nothing suspicious came back from the check, the candidate would receive a job offer. 

What has Changed?

The big change is that many companies had to undergo hiring freezes due to the pandemic. They either didn’t have sufficient funds to make new hires, had to temporarily or permanently close their business, or had too much uncertainty to expand. 

Other companies continued bringing new hires on board, but the interview process had changed. The candidate and the employer weren’t able to meet face-to-face, which is typically one of the most important aspects of an interview. They will usually meet via video or phone interviews so that there is no risk of infection transmission. 

In 2020, background checks were more important than ever since the candidate was not able to come into the office. The employers did not get to use their intuition on the candidate, which can help to make hiring decisions. Instead of this, background checks can thoroughly dig into a candidate’s past to make sure that they are a good fit for the company.

Negative Impact on Background Checks

The pandemic has slowed many processes that used to be quick and routine. Background checks have not been immune to this. For instance, when a background check representative calls a candidate’s old workplace, that company may have temporarily gone out of business. Or they may all be working from home, and it can be difficult to track down their contact information. 

Education verification has also gotten delayed throughout Covid-19. Many educational institution staff members have been working from home since they are not required to be in the building. It can be difficult to get a hold of someone, particularly if there is a long queue on the phone lines. 

Some background checks include the candidate to undergo drug testing. Many labs and walk-in clinics are full and encouraging people not to come in unless they are sick or injured. This has resulted in many candidates not being able to do the drug testing that is a requirement of the company they applied to.

Another obstacle is that people cannot obtain certain court records during Covid-19. Most of them are accessible via the internet, but there are still a few things that need a person to physically pick them up. Some courts around the country are completely closed down and not providing records for background checks. This can result in very long delays and the candidate may move onto a new opportunity in the meantime. 

Hiring Provisionally

One workaround that some companies have incorporated is hiring provisionally if the background checks do not come back within a reasonable amount of time. This is when the candidate gets hired, but they may end up getting terminated if something gets uncovered in their criminal records at a later point in time. Not all job offers can be conditional in this way, so employers should seek legal advice before doing so.  

Vaccination Records

Now that there are multiple Covid-19 vaccines available for use in America, employees may be wondering if they will need to get one to return to the office or get hired. It will likely be a requirement that some professions, such as healthcare workers, get the vaccine as soon as it is available to them. 

For employees in non-essential work, it will be more of a grey area. Employers will most likely encourage people to continue working remotely if they have not gotten the vaccine. This way, they are keeping the office safe and catering to the employees who were unable to get it or who chose not to.