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3 min read

Your Guide To International Background Checks

Hiring international applicants can connect you to talent on a global scale, enhance the diversity of your workforce, and broaden your company’s cultural perspective. The rise of remote work has made it easier to hire candidates from all across the globe. While international hiring can add invaluable new team members, it comes with a unique set of risks.

A routine background check is not always sufficient for international hires as you can miss certain red flags. Even when a candidate has lived in the United States for many years, a lot of information can slip through the cracks without an international screening. For certain positions especially, international background checks are vital to protecting your company’s integrity.

When Should I Consider An International Background Check?

Employers are often hesitant to conduct international background checks as the process can be time-consuming. If you are hiring for a relatively low-level position, an international background check may do little more than slow down the hiring process.

However, there are some cases where extreme caution is recommended and an international background check is worth the extra investment.

Is this a high-up position where your employee will have access to sensitive information? If so, an international background check is important to protect your company. Hiring an employee with arrest records overseas may put your business at undue risk of embezzlement, data breaches, and more. 

An international background check may also be necessary for a position that requires a highly specific skill set or educational background. If an employee could put others in danger without a certain certification or degree, for example, an international screening ensures they have been honest about their qualifications. 

International background checks do not only apply to international candidates. An employee who has lived or worked abroad for an extended period could potentially have a criminal record overseas that would not show up on domestic screenings.

International Background Checks: The Challenges

Navigating International Regulations

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to international background checks. Every country has its own regulations, as do regions, cities, and states within those countries.

Think about the United States. The laws regarding background checks in California differ from the laws in New Hampshire. Laws often vary between counties within a single state and there are also industry-specific regulations to consider.

Maintaining compliance with local regulations is vital for the well-being of your company. You can land in legal trouble for violating international background laws – especially if you use information obtained illegally to deny employment.

Language Barriers

International background checks often require fluency in a specific language. In China, for example, educational transcripts are usually only available in Mandarin or Cantonese. In Germany, criminal records are rarely recorded in English, so whoever conducts the background check must be able to read and understand German.

Even small tasks can be complex due to language barriers. If a hiring manager in another country does not speak English, it can be difficult for your own hiring department to simply email them to verify a candidate’s employment.

Differences In Technology

Where and how records are stored vary by country and not every government has digitized records of certain types of information. This can make the process of conducting international screenings complicated and lengthy.

Conducting an international background check may require some fairly extensive searching. This can entail anything from looking through local newspaper records for information about a candidate to mailing out requests for college transcripts and degree certifications.

What Can I Learn From An International Background Check?

You can learn a lot of information about a candidate from an international background check. International background checks can look into:

  • Employment verification
  • Education verification
  • Civil suits and judgments
  • Local media searches
  • Driving records
  • International criminal records

If a candidate has immigrated to the United States, they have likely already undergone rigorous background checks. While these screenings take a close look into an individual’s criminal history, your company may still need to verify other information on that candidate.

Does the job at hand require a specific degree? If so, education verification is vital. You do not want to hire someone as an engineer, for example, if you discover they lied about having a Master’s degree in mechanical engineering.

There is also experience to consider. If you are hiring for a senior level position that requires a great deal of expertise, you want to ensure a candidate was honest about their employment history.

Due to aforementioned issues like language barriers and regional regulations, your hiring department may not have the resources at their disposal to conduct these kinds of screenings. Working with a third party company capable of conducting a thorough international background check helps.

The Bottom Line

An international background check can take extra time – especially if there is a lot of information you need to verify. In some cases, however, it is highly recommended you take extra precautions by ordering an international screening.

If you are hiring someone with access to sensitive information, you need to do your due diligence to ensure a candidate is trustworthy. An international background check can provide peace of mind when hiring abroad and keep your company protected from fraud. 

If you are interested in international screenings, AccuSourceHR™ Workforce Solutions helps companies learn details from a distance with comprehensive screening services for candidates living around the world. We can take care of issues like navigating local regulations and working around language barriers to ensure safe, fair, and legally compliant hiring on a global scale. Reach out here to get started.