Using pre-employment checks in recruitment


Sometimes when recruiting, assessing written applications and running interviews is simply not enough. You might need more assurance about a candidate’s ability, or you might be in the fortunate position of having several candidates in close contention and you need to decide between them. There are a number of pre-employment checks available to you that may give you that needed assurance.

Here is a brief summary of a common few

Reference checks

The most common pre-employment check is to conduct reference checks. This usually involves contacting a previous or current work supervisor who will vouch for their abilities and experience. A good guide is to conduct at least 2 of these checks, and it is always preferable to use contacts from the most recent positions or if unavailable perhaps a teacher if the candidate has recently studied. These checks are usually conducted over the phone but if your organisation allows, they can be written on letterhead. 


A simple identification check is always a good idea to include in a recruitment process to simply know who you are interviewing and hiring and that they are who they say they are. This doesn’t need to be a complicated process and may be as simple as asking a candidate to produce photo identification at interview (e.g. their driver’s license) and if they consent, allowing you to take a copy for your records. Being photo identification, you can therefore assess for yourself when standing in front of the candidate that the identification provided matches the person.

If however this doesn’t suffice you can always ask for a full 100 points of ID to be provided by the candidate and again if the candidate consents you can take a copy for your records and verify that these documents apply to the full 100 points.

TIP: Some other pre-employment checks (e.g. Criminal Background check) will require 100 points of ID to be submitted, so this can be a way to achieve both checks at the same time.


As an employer, you are required to comply with Australian immigration laws which means when employing someone in Australia you need to be sure that they have the right to work.

If a person is an Australian citizen or a permanent resident it is safe to assume there is no VISA and no possible restrictions in terms of their ability to work in Australia. However, there are cases where people may be visiting Australia on a VISA (e.g. Student, Working Holiday Maker) and in these cases there may be restrictions on the type of work, amount of hours etc.

If employing someone on a VISA it is important that you know the restrictions of their VISA and ensure you are not employing them outside these conditions.

TIP: This also includes multiple positions, so if you’re going to be employing someone on a VISA its important to ask if they are employed anywhere else, as this can impact the amount of hours you may be able to offer them.

More information about the specifics of VISA’s can be found on the Government’s Department of Immigration website You can use their online verification system which is a simple way to conduct a VISA check. It is named the VISA Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) service and can be found at

Working with children check

In New South Wales the working with children (WWC) check is required only in jobs where people work unsupervised with children or with vulnerable children. It involves a involves a criminal history check (will only seek results of any offenses relating to children) and a review of findings of workplace misconduct. If a person holds a WWC this means they have clearance to work in child related employment because they have a clear criminal history and no previous workplace misconduct.

If you have positions in your organisation of this nature you need to be registered as an employer with the Office of the Children’s Guardian (NSW Government). From there you can ask a new employee to provide you with their WWC number which you are then required to verify in the online system.

The outcome will be confirmation that the person’s clearance is current as well as confirming this person is now working as your employee.

It is not advisable to employ anyone in a child related role that cannot provide this.

More information about registering as an employer with child related positions, or to assist candidates applying for your vacant jobs at

TIP: The WWC check system in NSW means that the clearance only relates to work within NSW. If a person is employed to work over multiple states it is advisable they carry a clearance for each state they work in.

TIP: There are two types of WWC in NSW a person can apply for – paid or volunteer. It is important that they hold the appropriate type for the work they will be doing. The type can be identified usually by either a “P” or “E” at the end of the clearance number.

For more information about the WWC system in other states please see links below


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WA -



NT -

National Criminal Background Check

This will check for any criminal history in any state of Australia, whatever the nature of the crime or level of severity.

The candidate themselves can go and get a check of this nature (i.e via Post Office or Police Station) or you can do this on their behalf by gaining their consent. There are many ways you can obtain this type of check via a third party provider such as Fit 2 Work, CV Check and many more.

TIP: These types of checks are only current on the day they are performed so it is up to your organisation to make a decision about accepting a check the candidate that has got themselves if dated some time ago.  

Qualifications check

There are providers who offer a system to verify the qualifications a candidate states they hold as true and accurate. This may be specifically useful in roles that require a certain level of qualification such as trades, counsellors, accountants etc.

This check involves the provider contacting the institution that the candidate studied with and confirming the student name, qualification level and graduation date to verify that the copy the candidate has provided is in fact the qualification they hold.

Membership & License checks

In much the same way, you can also perform verifications of a candidate’s licenses, memberships with industry associations etc to ensure that the information the candidate provides is accurate and current. This may be useful in those positions that require these specific licenses, memberships such as Accountants (CPA), Psychologists (APA), HR (AHRI), Security licenses, Builder licenses etc.

Work history verification

This is further check you can perform using a third-party provider to verify the employment history that a candidate quotes are in fact true & correct. This in-depth type of check won’t be required for most roles, however, is available should it be useful for roles where the amount of experience is important.

Medical Assessment

This type of check is not always required for most jobs and the results should only be used in assessing suitability for a role where physical ability is a legitimate requirement. It may include a physical examination by a Doctor to assess things like eyesight, hearing and lung capacity.

This type of check is mostly used in the types of roles where there is a physical component and a candidate’s physical capability is an important factor in assessing their suitability for a role i.e. Fire Fighter, Personal Trainer and Police Officer.

Social media

This is a simple check that you can conduct yourself in house at NIL cost. It is becoming increasingly common and most recruiters are now including it as a regular part of the recruitment process. It is simply a search by a person’s name into social media channels and Google in the interest of locating anything alarming.

Psychometric Assessment

There are many types of personality profiling that can be done such as DISC, Myers Briggs and more general psychometric testing. These sorts of tests are traditionally a series of multiple-choice questions that ask the candidate to give their perspective on certain matters to determine their personality and tendencies. This type of check is useful in roles where mental capacity and resilience is important like social work. The outcome of the test will provide a measure of things such as a persons ability to cope with stress or reactions to sensitive information for example.

One type of psychometric assessment is called the Harrison Assessment and can be designed in alignment with the Job Description to capture the exact personal attributes required of the tasks in the role. We can recommend our sister business Total Workforce Services to assist in conducting the Harrison Assessment and encourage you to contact them on (02) 4555 4634 or for more information.

We also recommend the provider CV Check who offer a number of these checks in a prompt and affordable system.

Pre-employment checks may sometimes be required by legislation, funding agreements etc otherwise it might just be your organisational policy to strengthen your recruitment processes.

No matter what type of check or checks you will conduct on candidates, you will always need their consent to do so. In the case of reference checks this may be as simply as a verbal “ok” to contact their referees, however in other cases there may be a consent form to be signed by the candidate before you can complete the check.

You also need to adhere to Privacy Laws and this means keeping application details confidential as well as letting candidates know what information you are collecting, why, who it will be given to and what you will do with it, how they can access it and how long you will hold on to it.

A final few tips would be to not make the offer of employment to your chosen candidate until you gain the result from the checks you have conducted.

It is not necessary to conduct checks on all applicants, only the preferred candidate. This will save you money and will also mean that you aren’t collecting sensitive information that you will not use.

Wishing you all the best as you seek out the newest member of your team.