This misconception is common among employers. In fact, it is often perpetrated by vendors of cheap background check services. The goal of such vendors is to convince employers that their services are as good as the more costly ones.

However, this is a fallacy. For starters, there are different types of pre-employment background checks e.g. criminal background checks, education verification, employment verification, and sanction checks. These are clearly not the same.

Even for the same type of background checks, the results are rarely the same. Take criminal background checks for instance. There are numerous sources of data e.g. national crime databases, FBI fingerprinting, state crime databases, international databases (e.g. INTERPOL’s database), court records, and even the DMV (for traffic crimes records). Not all vendors look into all these sources of data.

The bottom line is, not all background checks are the same. The checks are conducted depending on their intended purpose. Also, each vendor has their own approach to background checking. As a result, two background checks on a single individual can yield very different results.