International Background Check – Candidate Screening is a Legal Jungle

Universitas Swasta di Bandung

Picture the scenario: Mark has just been appointed to a new senior role, and his employer wants to check his background.

Mark has had an international education and career path, studying in Switzerland and Germany and enjoying a successful career in Australia, Malaysia and the UK before moving to the US.
How can a company check Mark’s credentials to ensure he’s been honest and truthful in his application for the role?

Screening companies are experts on the rules and regulations of their own countries, but many do not know to what extent regulations or background checks differ abroad.

When faced with an international check, there are six key areas to consider:

International Background Check 1: Consent and Release of Information
Consent forms need to show how information will be treated and who will have access to it. Perhaps third parties other than the company ordering the checks need to review the screening results – such as when an employment agency wishes to share results with the actual employers.

International Background Check 2: Criminal Records
Each country has its own system for collecting and releasing criminal records data, and it’s important to take local regulations into consideration. In Malaysia criminal data is only accessible for specific positions such as security, yet in Australia and the UK basic information can be released for any role –and for those working in specific positions such as the financial or health sectors, even more details can be accessed.
In Germany, though, criminal records can be released only to the candidate, and third parties are not allowed to request the Certificate of Good Conduct on behalf of the candidate.

International Background Check 3: Credit Checks
Rules on the release of consumer credit information also differ from country to country. In the US, obtaining credit information through a credit bureau is normal, legal and widely understood. Yet in countries such as Italy or Malaysia, credit information is not available for pre-employment screening purposes even though credit bureaus do operate there .

In the UK, South Africa and Australia, credit bureaus will only provide for pre-employment screening purposes basic information on court judgments and bankruptcies. Credit information is therefore restricted in those countries to lenders and similar organizations.

In many other countries there are no credit bureaus at all to provide any type of financial information on consumers.

International Background Check 4: Employment Verification / Employment References
The US approach to employment verification is to carry out a verbally conducted check to obtain employment information. In Europe, written requests for employment references are preferred. Many employers will actually refuse to discuss these matters over the phone, and ask instead to receive a written response.

In France and Germany, employers provide confirmation letters to all leavers and therefore do not have to deal with requests for verifications or references.

International Background Check 5: Education
The National Clearing House provides the US with the ability to check the majority of academic degrees. A similar system is available in South Africa. By contrast, in Australia institutions tend to include graduate information on their university websites.

Elsewhere, for many universities a written request is the most effective way to conduct a check and to source additional revenue too.Universitas Swasta di Bandung In India and China a copy of the degree certificate is essential to help confirm it is legitimate. In many African countries due to the lack of infrastructure, such as electricity and telecommunications, one has to visit the university in person in order to get confirmation of the degree.

International Background Check 6: Supporting the global workforce
As you can see, screening internationally has a number of challenges. Not only are there different procedures and policies in each country, there are language barriers, too.

It is easy to see how this can become a time intensive and lengthy process. But as we continue to develop as a global workplace, it is critical to understand cultures and laws in other countries so that we continue to be effective and earn respect for the comprehensive service we provide today’s organisations.