The Top 10 Questions Asked About The Screening Process

Conducting background checks on new employees is a very common practice, and depending on the role, some checks may be a legal requirement.

There are many advantages of pre-employment background screening for employers, as it helps protect the company, its employees, and business partners. We have a look at the top 10 questions asked by candidates about the screening process.


1. How does background screening work?

Checks are typically conducted by an organisation’s HR department, and often outsourced to an external screening provider, such as Agenda Screening Services. Outsourcing allows you to speed up the process by handing it over to an expert in the field, whilst your HR departments can carry on with their roles. Background screening ensures that your candidates are who they say they are, and you are suitable for the position they’ve applied for.


2. What background checks do employers make?

There are many different background checks, with many frameworks provided by the government such as DBS, BPSS, and BS7858. A typical check consists of confirming your identity, immigration status, employment history, and criminal records. Depending on the package that you require, you are also able to include credit checks, social media checks, and health and medical checks. Agenda Screening Services allow you to create a bespoke package, fit for the security of your business.


3. Do employers have to carry out background checks?

By law, employers are required to check you have the legal right to work in the UK, but some checks, such as criminal record checks and health checks are only a legal requirement for some industries.


4. Will a background check show that I was fired?

A check will look into your employment history and will ask for references from previous positions, including reasons for leaving. Even if you do not declare you were dismissed, a background check will likely reveal this, so it is best, to be honest in the first instance.


5. How far back do background checks extend?

It depends on the role and the nature of the business, but you should expect checks to go back at least five years.

Criminal records checks are different. DBS checks have three main levels, basic, standard, and enhanced. Standard and enhanced checks will list both unspent and spent convictions, cautions, warnings, and reprimands, as long as they are not protected.


6. Does background checking mean I’ve got the job?

No, as some employers may conduct background checks on all shortlisted applicants, and job offers may be subject to satisfactory background checks.


7. Do companies call your previous employer?

Potential employers will likely want to contact your previous employers unless you request that they don’t. However, you will have to provide a reason why don’t want them to contact your previous employer.


8. Can employers withdraw a job offer based on the results of a background check?

Employers have the right to withdraw a job offer based on unsatisfactory background checks, particularly about immigration status and criminal records which might make it an offence for them to hire someone unsuitable.

However, employers are not allowed to refuse employment based on ethnicity, genetic history, age, gender, maternity status, sexual orientation, or political opinions.


9. How long does background checking take?

Background checking can take anywhere between 48 hours and four weeks depending on the information that you require.



10. Can I refuse a background check?

Employers must ask for your consent to carry out background checks. However, these checks are simply to ascertain whether you are suitable for the position, and employers are legally obligated to perform some checks. Refusal will likely mean your application will be terminated.

If you’re looking for more information about pre-employment screening, contact our friendly and experienced team today. You’re in safe hands with Agenda Screening Services.

What Questions Should You Ask References?

Pre-employment screening is an amazing opportunity to ensure that a successful candidate is the person they claim to be. It also starts your new business relationship on the right foot by understanding more about your candidates and easing the onboarding process for both parties.

Most employment checks are legal requirements or basic statements such as the dates they worked and their job title. Here are some questions you can ask references which will allow you to make more informed decisions.


What Were Their Greatest Strengths?

Pre-Employment Screening tends to focus on seeking out negative traits. This is understandable, as an employer has already decided they like the candidate and they are checking for red flags that could hinder their role in the business.

However, asking about their greatest strengths and situations where they went above and beyond can paint a clearer picture of how their skills and abilities manifest in practice.


What Management Style Do They Thrive In?

Management styles can be the key to success. Working out which style works for your employees is important to a successful onboarding process.

One example of the impact of management styles is seen in sports teams. When a star player leaves a team structure or system that they did very well in, they may have moved to one that was wholly unsuitable for their skillset, affecting their ability. Ultimately, with the right management approach, candidates should be able to thrive and help the growth of your business.

Some employees not only thrive independently but require a largely autonomous approach to produce their best work, but others are much stronger team players that benefit from more guidance. Knowing how your candidate works early allows you to set them up for success.


Would They Hire Them Back Given The Chance?

Of all the questions you could ask an HR department, this one might have the lowest chance of getting a full answer. At the same time however, it is the most telling of the employee’s time there and the circumstances of their exit.

Of course, bear in mind that the question can say as much about the former employer as it does about the candidate.

If you would like pre-employment screening, please contact Agenda Screening Services. You will be provided with a market-leading, quality service, offering you the information you need to make the most informed hiring decisions.

77% Of Businesses Offer Digital Appraisals

Over the last couple of years, many areas of office work have digitalised as employees have been forced to work from home. This includes annual appraisals, with 77 per cent of companies introducing online checks to replace person-to-person ones.

According to the latest findings from StaffCircle, this process has been digitised as a way to support home workers, with many employees still not having returned to the office as a result of the pandemic.

Despite this, less than half (41 per cent) of workers said their appraisals are conducted with HR software, with the manual, paper-based system being used in most cases.

Founder and chief executive officer of StaffCircle Mark Seemann noted HR managers are still not emphasising the importance of performance checks, digital or otherwise.

“Having systems in place that support employees remotely is paramount, yet businesses haven’t recognised this when it comes to performance reviews,” he stated.

Mr Seemann added: “Employees might be speaking to their managers more frequently when they work remotely, but this communication isn’t structured or productive, and both employees and organisations are missing out on key insights.”

Indeed, there has been an increase in the number of people leaving companies over the last six months, and a lack of manager feedback was cited as the reason in 11 per cent of cases.

The most common reason for quitting was the inability to work flexibly, with a quarter claiming this is why they moved to another firm.

According to a recent survey by Microsoft, 46 per cent of the global workforce have considered resigning from their job in the last year. What’s more, three-quarters of employees would like flexible working options to remain indefinitely.

With working from home and hybrid working being so prominent, cyber security is more important than ever. This is due to several reasons including more data being available online, not being able to see what your employees are getting up to or even not even meeting the person you are employing. This is emphasised by the fact that 4/10 small businesses say they have had security breaches in the past 12 months. Therefore, it is vital you know exactly who you are hiring.

Pre-employment screening is the perfect way to understand everything you need to know about someone before making hiring decisions. By using Agenda Screening Services, the most accredited screening provider, you’re able to create a bespoke package for your business. This will offer you the information you need to make the right hiring decision for the future of your business.

Should You Screen Applicants Social Media?

Love it or loathe it, social media has become an intrinsic part of our daily lives and transformed how we communicate with each other, and it has also changed the world of recruitment and talent acquisition.

An incredible amount of data can be learned from candidates’ social media platforms, and it can be a temptation for employers to check sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to vet them before hiring. Even the current crop of Love Island contestants have had their social media vetted, according to The Metro.

Social media searches can provide employers with a deeper insight into a candidate they may not get from a CV or interview, but there are some significant risks if these checks are not carried out as part of the formal screening process, and hiring decisions are made using information you are not permitted to use.

A 2018 CareerBuilder survey revealed that 70 per cent of employers use social networks to research candidates during the hiring process and half of those admitted to not employing an applicant based on what they found there.

A report in 2018 stated that 60 per cent of businesses claim not to carry out any social media checks as part of the formal process, which suggests that there are many hiring managers checking candidates social media ‘unofficially’.

If this is correct, then employers need to be careful, as social media searches need to be compliant with discrimination and privacy laws.

There are risks that hiring managers could be making recruitment decisions based on social media checks that are subject to conscious and subconscious bias.

It’s therefore vital that all hiring managers are made aware of what information they can draw on when checking social media networks during the recruitment process, and decisions are based on information found that is revenant to the job role.

HR should also make sure managers are aware of the risks around protected characteristics and sensitive personal data, and have received training on relevant legislation such as the Equality Act and the GDPR.

It is recommended that employers have policies developed on the use of social media in recruitment, and robust equal opportunity and anti-discrimination policies will help reduce any risks.

Candidates should also be informed that a search of social media may be conducted on all applicants before an interview, and their permission obtained, making them aware so they can decide for themselves if they wish to be private or public on their social profiles.

It is important to remember that if a candidate has a social media platform, it was not created for their employers, even if it is public and part of the public domain, and they may not have given permission for it to be used as part of the recruitment process.

Ensure you are clear on the purpose for carrying out social media screening, and that you have a rationale for doing it. Consider what is important to you as an employer and the characteristics that are important to you for the job role.

Using Open Source intelligence techniques (OSINT), Agenda Screening Services uncover the valuable information you need from your candidates online digital footprint, we analyse social media, news, blogs, and publications – without being intrusive.


If you’re interested in outsourcing background checks, then come and speak to us today.

Enquiry Calls For Police Records Replacement

An independent report has called on the government to urgently replace the Police National Computer (PNC), following a major incident in January in which an engineer accidentally deleted the records of 209,550 offences.

The PNC was set up 47 years ago and is used for employee criminal background check services, but the incident created a situation in which many candidates might have been able to take up job offers because their criminal records were removed from the database. Fortunately, the records, including arrest details, fingerprints and DNA data, have all been recovered.

Leading the enquiry, former chief of the Metropolitan Police Lord Hogan-Howe concluded that the “critical incident” was caused by a combination of “human error” and management-level failings.

However, much of the focus has been on the computer itself. Set up in 1974, it may have been state-of-the art in its time, but the need for a replacement was already evident. Indeed, the government does have plans in place to do this, but the new system is expected to take two years to emerge.

According to the report, this change needs to happen sooner. It has called for the Home Office to come up with a plan for the overhaul or replacement of the system within eight weeks.

Part of the problem is that, notwithstanding some updates, the PNC was still criticised as being “inflexible” and, due to its age, its operation was dependent on a “diminishing skills base” of software engineers with an understanding of how the 1970s technology operated.

This led to the situation where engineers carrying out a legally-required system update made one single error in coding, which caused the deletion of the records.

Noting that the team involved in running the system “have worked together over a long period of time”, the report stated that management would have relied on the “expertise and closeness” of the team. This made it much more likely that “their work would be accepted rather than checked by a leadership that was in a poor position to challenge their decision-making”.

Home secretary Priti Patel has said the upgrade of the Home Office databases is a priority, with a number of IT systems requiring modernisation.

She told the Home Affairs Committee in January that the issue has been “neglected by successive governments for far too long.”

Ms Patel added: ”The infrastructure is absolutely, as we have seen from the Police National Computer issue, out-of-date, struggling, and we have to absolutely update our systems.”

When the problem was first discovered in January, it was estimated that around 150,000 records had been lost. It was swiftly identified as an internal error and not the result of a cyber attack. 

Speaking to IT Pro in response, systems engineer manager at data management company Cohesity Ezat Dayeh said: “It is hard to believe that there is no protection, no backup and no policies that would prevent this kind of data being lost,” adding that “questions need to be asked” if it was not possible to recover the data.

At Agenda, Criminal Record checks form just one part of a package of checks we carry out for most of our clients. Our holistic approach to marrying up checks will identify anomalies, meaning you have enhanced protection from this type of threat.

UK Job Vacancies Highest For A Year

Job vacancies in the UK have hit their highest level since the start of the pandemic, as the easing of the lockdown measures has led employers to begin recruiting. In the period between February and April, vacancies rose by 48,400 from the previous quarter to 657,000.

The Guardian reports that the unemployment rate fell to 4.8 per cent in the three months to March, which is down from 4.9 per cent in February, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which said there were ‘early signs of recovery’ in the jobs market.

However, despite the increase in vacancies over the past year, the level is still around 128,000 below pre-pandemic levels in Q1 2020.

The official figures confirm reports from recruitment companies in recent weeks saying that they are seeing a rise in job advertisements, leading to concern among some employers that they could face staff shortages.

ONS said the number of workers on payrolls had risen by 97,000 between March and April but was still 772,000 lower than before the pandemic struck.

ONS director of economic statistics, Darren Morgan, said the number of employees on payroll ‘rose strongly in April’ as the economy began to reopen, continuing an improvement from its November trough.

However, he added: “There remains, however, three-quarters of a million people fewer on the payroll compared with the pre-pandemic peak.

“With many businesses reopening, the recent recovery in job vacancies continued into April, especially in sectors such as hospitality and entertainment.”

Business leaders welcomed the vacancy levels as positive signs for the economy but warned there was still a long way to go.

If you need support with your pre-employment screening, please contact us today.

Calamity Interview Anniversary Offers Checks Reminder

This week marks 15 years since perhaps the most notorious interview ever to be captured on film, when a man seeking a job at the BBC somehow found himself live on TV.

Millions of viewers were amused but probably also felt deeply sympathetic for hapless candidate Guy Goma, who had turned up for an interview in 2006 only to be misdirected, misidentified and find himself on the News 24 channel being interviewed about a court case affecting the music industry.

Mr Goma looked shocked as he was introduced as “Guy Kewney, the editor of the technology website News Wireless”. He was then asked three questions by interviewer Karen Bowerman, who was still oblivious to the fact she was talking to the wrong man.

To his credit, Mr Goma, a Congolese IT graduate from Brazzaville, did his best to answer the questions, even accurately predicting a major increase in the amount of music people would download from the internet.

However, all this left the real Mr Kewney sitting in reception, with the producer having gone to a different waiting area to literally fetch the wrong Guy.

A BBC spokesperson said: “This has turned out to be a genuine misunderstanding. We’ve looked carefully at our guest procedures and will take every measure to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”

This case may have been an extreme one, but it may act as a handy reminder of the importance of pre-employment screening. While mix-ups at reception are a rare hazard, it certainly pays for firms to know as much relevant information as possible about the candidate for any position before any interview takes place.

Alas for Mr Goma, he did not get the job he was actually seeking – a data support cleanser role – but he did achieve 15 minutes of unexpected fame. Indeed, there were even suggestions this could inspire a film.

To avoid your own calamitous recruitment decision, use Agenda pre-employment screening services to ensure you have the right person for the job.

Guy Goma: BBC’s best/worst interview? – BBC News

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | BBC News ‘wrong Guy’ is revealed

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | ‘Wrong Guy’ could inspire movie

How Will HR Change In 2021?

It’s fair to say that businesses and as a result human resource (HR) departments experienced some seismic shifts in how they operate in 2020. What further changes could be coming down the track in 2021, or what alterations that were introduced as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic are likely to remain?

HR Zone recently spoke to the head of global advisory for HR at Gartner Ania Krasniewska Shahidi, who explained that one of the key areas of focus for HR leaders will be ensuring employees have the right skills to thrive as workplaces change.

Gartner recently surveyed over 800 HR leaders across more than 60 countries and found that their top priority for 2021 was to build critical skills and competencies across teams.

According to Ms Krasniewska Shahidi, businesses would be best served by taking a “dynamic approach” to skills identification and development.

She revealed that, in doing so, businesses can “ensure up to 75 per cent of the skills they train for are applied”.

To create a dynamic approach, companies need to make sure they understand how skills are changing and what “adjacent skills” might be required in future, as well as introducing “skills accelerators to develop skills at the time of need”.

It’s also important to allow employees to find ways of learning from one another, and to encourage this, rather than simply relying on traditional skills development.

Ms Krasniewska Shahidi also revealed that there has been a significant increase in concerns relating to diversity, equality and inclusion, particularly in relation to leadership within organisations.

However, despite many companies stating that they want to make changes in this area, only 12 per cent of the businesses surveyed by Gartner felt that they knew how to do this well.

Another area of focus for HR teams in 2021 will be breaking from traditional working models and adopting much greater flexibility, with Ms Krasniewska Shahidi explaining that, where radical flexibility happens, businesses can “grow their high-performing employee populations from about 36 per cent to 55 per cent”.

Although remote work has become a reality for many people during 2020, this signals a fundamental change in the way in which some of us work.

To make the most out of these changes, it will be vital for businesses to hire the right people into their organisations. It also means businesses may choose to hire from talent pools overseas, as well as in the UK. Working with reputable international background screening companies like Agenda Screening will therefore be vital.

A Gartner survey published in December revealed that 90 per cent of HR leaders intend to let their workers work remotely at least part of the time following the global pandemic, which highlights the importance of having employees and teams you can trust.

Those questioned also stated that they believe around 50 per cent of the workforce will want to return to their workplace, at least part-time, after a Covid-19 vaccine is made more widely available.

If you need assistance with pre-employment screening, get in touch with our experts at Agenda Screening today.

Are You Ready For Post-Brexit Right To Work Checks?

Although many people have been focusing on the Covid-19 pandemic, that hasn’t stopped the Brexit deadline creeping ever closer and as the UK moves towards the end of the transition period, it’s time for employers and other people like landlords to make sure they’re prepared for what happens next.

The Guardian recently reported that many EU citizens who have been granted settled status in the UK have encountered issues with employers who are not always willing to accept the digital proof of their status.

This is despite the government actively working towards having a fully digital immigration system.

As the newspaper reported, EU citizens who have been granted settled status won’t be given a physical ID card or another piece of proof that their status has been granted. Instead, they will have to access the online database operated by the Home Office to provide evidence that they are allowed to live and work in the UK.

Until July 2021, employers can still accept an EU passport as proof that someone has the right to live and work in the UK.

However, thereafter they will need to log into the Home Office system, with details provided by the person whose status they are checking.

A recent survey published by 3million found that just 14 per cent of companies felt that they understood the new rules relating to employing EU citizens once free movement ends in December of this year.

What’s more, 20 per cent said they would be more likely to accept a biometric permit as evidence rather than a digital status check.

There are also concerns that organisations and individuals who are unsure of the new rules will err on the side of caution and avoid employing EU citizens, rather than risk falling foul of immigration laws in the UK.

The Home Office told the newspaper that it believes a digital system is “more secure and ensures that EU citizens who are granted status in the UK can constantly access and securely share proof of their status”.

If this is an area that you’re concerned about in terms of employment in the coming months or years, working with international background screening companies is advisable as organisations like ours are well-versed in the latest legislation in relation to immigration and recruitment screening and can ensure that you’re fully compliant with the law.

Personnel Today recently reported that there has been a surge in the number of overseas applicants looking at jobs in the UK.

It cited data from jobs site Indeed, which revealed that the number of international candidates searching for jobs in the UK has climbed by 140 per cent since the end of March. This means it’s at its highest level since December 2018, the news provider added.

However, although more people from overseas are looking for work in this country, the proportion who are actually moving has fallen dramatically, largely as a result of the pandemic and Brexit.

In the 12 months to June, the number of work-related visas granted by the Home Office was 22 per cent lower than in the previous year.

Our right to work checks help you comply with the law and verify your candidates. For more information, get in touch with the team today.

Majority of Companies Experienced Insider Attacks Over the Last Year

Insider attacks affect the majority of companies with costs that can reach into the millions, according to a recent report into insider threats.

According to Bitglass’ 2020 Insider Threat Report, released last week, 61 per cent of companies have reported at least one insider attack against their organisation over the last 12 months. Of these companies, 22 per cent also reported at least six separate attacks over the same period of time.

With the increased use of online resources by businesses as a result of the current circumstances, insider threats, both caused by malicious individuals, careless employees or outright infiltrators, cause a significant amount of financial and reputational damage, and the potential for legal consequences for leaking data is significant.

According to the Bitglass report, the average cost of a single insider attack is between $100,000 (£75,000) and $2m (£1.5m), which only increases by orders of magnitude with multiple attacks.

What compounds the potential issues surrounding this further is the increased use of personal devices or online cloud systems to access business networks.

A staggering 82 per cent of businesses surveyed say that cannot confirm if an insider threat comes from a personal device, whilst 50 per cent claim they cannot detect insider threats on the cloud. A further 81 per cent of those surveyed have difficulty assessing how much damage an insider attack has caused.

Beyond the physical damage, there are also factors that are more difficult to define, such as reputational damage, the current and potential future loss of customers, as well as how much the business is disrupted and its compounding effect on all of these factors which may cause further losses.

Agenda can help you put in place training and processes to reduce the risks associated with the insider threat. Talk to us about our training courses, pre-employment screening and existing employee re-screening.

Demand For Temp Workers Up In UK

The latest research from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) in the UK has found that many businesses are planning to or are seeking temporary workers to help them recover from the effects of the pandemic.

In its latest JobsOutlook report, which covers the period from May to July, the organisation found that hiring intentions for agency workers was at 6+, its highest level since the October to December period of 2019.

The survey also found that businesses are slightly more likely to recruit temporary than permanent staff in the coming three months, which is the first time that demand for temporary workers has outstripped permanent workers in two years.

When asked why they were focusing on hiring temporary workers, 67 per cent of businesses revealed that it was to give them short-term access to the key skills that they needed at their firm.

However, the intention to hire permanent staff was also up to 5+ in the REC research, which indicates that confidence is returning to many areas of the jobs market.

Chief executive of the REC Neil Carberry commented: “While the path ahead is still uncertain, temporary work helps firms create jobs sooner, and helps people who need new jobs get back to earning quickly.”

Research conducted by the REC also shows that 39 per cent of Brits have taken temporary, contract or freelance roles during their working lives, with the majority doing so by choice.

What’s more, many people consider it a stepping stone into permanent employment, with this supported by the figures as 68 per cent of those who have taken temporary roles in the past are now in permanent positions.

If you think that you may make some or all of your temporary workers permanent, it’s essential that you carry out pre-employment screening in the same way you would if you were hiring for a permanent position.

However, it seems that many people face increased competition for jobs, with the number of applicants applying for positions growing significantly in recent months.

We recently shared a report in the Guardian, which revealed that the number of people in paid employment in Britain had fallen by 650,000 since March, when the UK locked down and the Covid-19 pandemic was at its height.

One recruitment consultant told the newspaper that, rather than just receiving ten or 20 applications for a position, which would previously have been considered good, they are now receiving hundreds.

The Independent recently reported that there could be even more people entering the job seeking market in the UK, with the newspaper revealing that the number of people who have lost their jobs since March is now at 730,000.

It also shared figures relating to the number of weekly hours worked between April and June this year, compared to 2019. This showed that the number of weekly hours worked in these months was 203.13 million hours lower than in the same quarter of 2019.

This also represented a fall of 191.3 million hours compared to the first quarter of 2020, before the effects of the pandemic were fully felt.

Agenda offer pre-employment screening for numerous different sectors. Whether you’re recruiting in house, or on behalf of someone else, for temporary or permanent roles, we can help. Get in touch with one of our team to find out more.

The Importance Of Pre-Employment Screening For Care Roles

All health and social care service providers in England must ensure that they prioritise CQC compliance as an essential part of running their business and pre-employment screening is an absolute must in this regard.

You risk reputational and financial damage to your business if you are found to be non-compliant, but it can be very time-consuming to carry out background checks in-house, time that could be better spent looking after those under your care.

Since April 2010, all NHS providers have had to register with the Care Quality Commission, whether they’re part of the health service itself or operate privately.

This also means you need to remain compliant with the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014 and the Care Quality Commission (Registration) Regulations 2009, especially relating to staff recruitment.

Required screening includes ID checks, address verification, education verification, checks on licences and memberships, gap referencing, a five-year employment history and an enhanced criminal record check. In addition, for those with Director level responsibilities, a ‘fit and proper person’/good character assessment must be made. We recommend our digital footprint check to help with this, providing evidence of online activity that may help establish an individual’s character.

It’s important to know that those you’re hiring are of good character, have the necessary qualifications, skills, experience and competence to perform the work required and that they’re able to properly perform the tasks expected of them, as well as providing evidence that you have completed such checks.

If you’d like any further help or advice, get in touch with us today.

See more on the Care Quality Commission website.

Our Team