A creative look into the critical world of background checks

Background checks. Hardly an inspiring topic, or is it? Like many HR functions that have already tapped into today’s social norms and new technology, from recruitment to onboarding, the vetting space has recently gotten its own facelift and gone digital – providing a new solution for modern candidate risk mitigation.

Below, we’ve outlined 5 of the most important screening checks to see how they compare. And what better way to illustrate the landscape than with some of our favourite Disney friends – after all, they say every good article has a Hook.

Read on to see which cast of characters your organisation currently embodies in its pre-employment screening strategy.

Is your company one of the Lost Boys, content in Never Land and disinclined to change? Or is it more like Rapunzel, eager to change the status quo and discover a new way forward?

WARNING: Graphic Content Below

Identity Check (& Right to Work) – aka Prince Charming & Cinderella

Who better to establish the identity of a candidate? Before midnight preferably. When the shoe fits…

Focus: Validation of candidates’ identity
Typical Turnaround: 1 business day


  • Quick & easy
  • Can expose fraudulent representation


  • Right to Work checks cannot be easily outsourced. As per legal requirement, checks must be carried out with the candidate present to positively confirm identity against government-issued picture ID.

Employment History Check – aka Bagheera:

The box-ticker. ‘Bear necessities’ for some. May get you out of the jungle but don’t lose sight of the forest for the trees – there’s a bigger picture available.

Focus: Validation of candidates’ position, tenure and performance with former employers
Typical Turnaround: 5-10 business days


  • Identifies resume gaps
  • Can expose candidates’ potential embellishment or misrepresentation of experience


  • Limited value given (UK) employers’ aversion to providing performance information, noting potential grounds for legal action
  • Commonly cited for poor candidate experience

Academic History Check – aka Pinocchio

Did he actually go to school? Don’t wait for the nose to grow, you’d hate to be fed a whale of a lie and only find out once it’s too late. No frills, no strings attached.

Focus: Validation of (highest) degree(s) earned
Typical Turnaround: 8 – 15 business days


  • Identifies academic history gaps
  • Can expose candidates’ potential embellishment or misrepresentation of academic achievement


  • Turnaround time can be subject to seasonal high-volume delays

DBS Criminal Record Check – aka Hercules

Strong and simple. Perfect for when you need a hero to defeat a cyclops or simply check those with association with the Underworld.

Focus: Query of criminal history – scope determined by industry requirement (Basic, Standard, Enhanced)
Typical Turnaround: 3 – 14 business days


  • Identifies potential security risks – spent/unspent convictions subject to disclosure level


  • DBS/Disclosure Scotland checks limited to the UK

Digital Check – aka Aladdin

A whole new world of screening. Not afraid to disrupt the marketplace, comes with magic lamp to shed light on character integrity – just make sure it’s kept in responsible hands.

Focus: Risk assessment of candidates’ digital footprints for position suitability and company culture alignment
Typical Turnaround: 2-5 business days


  • Mitigates reputation, behavioural, security or financial impropriety risks
  • Assesses candidate integrity and fit


  • Cannot carry out in-house due to exposure to non-consequential data and protected characteristics exempt from hiring consideration.

So how do they all compare?

Each a hero in their own right but some wield a bit more magic than others when it comes to their application, turnaround time and value. As such, the objective for HR teams looking to implement the most effective screening strategy for their organisation is to ask the question, which solution (or combination thereof) will prevent the most bad hires?