Global HR 10 min

What Is international employee verification, and why is it important?

Written by Gillian O'Brien
June 5, 2024
Gillian O'Brien


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Recruiting and hiring new employees is expensive. Many HR professionals devote hours to sourcing candidates, onboarding paperwork, and training new hires.

Employee verification helps you hire the person who is a good fit for your organization. International employee verification is the same process — but on a global level.

In this article, we explore the importance of international employee verification and give you a breakdown of the process. We'll provide the best option for outsourcing your background checks so you can focus on growing and supporting your international team.

What is employee verification?

Employee verification is used to confirm the accuracy and legitimacy of the information included on a prospective employee’s CV or resume. It alerts you to inaccurate or fraudulent documentation. This is particularly important for industries where standards are constantly updated and reviewed, like healthcare. 

Employee verification helps you hire the right candidate for the position you’re trying to fill. It also helps you avoid the costly and frustrating delays that result from replacing new hires when you discover they aren’t a good fit for their roles. 

International employee verification can also help you check that your potential hire’s character, nature, and work ethic is a good fit for your business.

How does employee verification differ for international employees?

The employee verification process becomes slightly more intricate for international teams. Since there’s no worldwide standard for required employee information, getting the records you need can take a while. 

Phoning references or confirming academic histories can get tricky when you’re managing different time zones and languages. To complicate matters even further, you’ll have to juggle multiple sets of local laws and regulations that control the details you’re allowed to access about employees. 

When you offer competitive remote positions, you’ll often receive a large volume of applications for each position you hope to fill. The question, then, becomes: how does a business verify potential employees at scale without using too many HR resources?

Why is employee verification important for international teams?

Verifying an applicant’s qualifications helps you confirm that their experience and skills are what you’re looking for. Looking at previous work experience and performance also shows you whether a candidate has the willpower and work ethic to manage a flexible remote role. 

Finally, you want to hire independent and proactive international employees. You should not be micromanaging a distributed workforce — nor is it possible. You want to be sure you’re hiring reputable, trustworthy employees who will represent your company well on a global scale.

What is involved in international employee verification?

An employer is allowed to access different types of employee information depending on local regulations. If you have a global remote team, make sure you undergo employee verification compliantly.

In general, employers can undergo the following types of verifications.

Employment verification

During employment verification, you can contact past employers to gather details surrounding the candidate’s previous employment. You’ll verify their previous job titles and experience, as well as confirm when and where they’ve worked. 

Looking at employment history helps you start building an accurate image of the candidate’s attitude and competency.  

In some cases, you’ll also discuss why the candidate was removed from their previous position, relevant disciplinary actions, or their salary history. However, keep in mind that local laws may prevent you from asking about why someone was fired — so be sure to handle this subject delicately. 

Employment verification can also alert you of any red flags in a potential hire’s behavior.

Academic verification

During academic verification (also known as education verification), you can contact one or more educational institutions to confirm details regarding the candidate’s degree, graduation dates, and grades. An employee's graduation date can also give you an idea of how many years they’ve been working. It may also suggest any major gaps in the candidate’s employment. 

Academic verification helps you avoid hiring someone without the required education or training to perform their tasks correctly.

Licensing verification

During licensing verification, you’ll confirm the validity of the licenses and professional certificates your candidate has included on their CV or resume. Licensing verification helps you check if your candidate has the required license to practice or perform a certain role.

Licensing verification is important because you don’t want to hire anyone who isn’t qualified or who follows outdated and unsafe practices. 

Professional reference verification

During a professional reference check, you’ll contact or interview a candidate’s listed references to gain insights into their past work performance, attitude, values, and character. Learning their strengths shows you how the candidate could be an asset to your company. Learning their weaknesses can inform you of whether they’ll need additional tools or guidance to help them in their new role. 

Professional reference verification gives you a well-rounded view of a candidate. It also helps you visualize what it’d be like to have them on your team.

Other verifications

Depending on the role, employers may also perform identity checks, background screenings, adverse media checks, criminal record checks, and credit checks.

For instance, you may need to run a criminal record check on a candidate for a financial role.

Different ways to verify international employees 

When verifying employees on an international scale, you have two options: doing the verification yourself or hiring a third-party provider to do it for you. Each has its benefits, and the best method for your business will depend on your budget and time restrictions, the number of applicants you’re verifying, and the capacity of your HR team.

In-house employee verifications are a great way to work around budget restrictions. And since your HR team knows the company intimately, they’re the best people to decide whether a candidate will be a good personality fit for the role. HR professionals also have direct access to team members and departments the candidate would work with, so it’s easy for them to make sure they’re finding the skills and experience the company needs. 

In-house verifications have some downsides. First, the process is both time- and labor-intensive. And if the position has hundreds or even thousands of applicants, the employment verification process puts your HR department under even more strain.

A third-party company (sometimes called a consumer reporting agency) can help you with international employee verifications. These companies are specially trained to verify employees, so they’re able to perform thorough verifications quickly. Additionally, these companies are typically well-versed in laws and regulations from around the world, so they’ll remain legally compliant while performing the checks you require. 

However, outsourcing your employee verifications can be expensive, especially for small or medium-sized businesses. 

How long does employee verification take?

The length of time it takes to verify an international employee depends on a variety of factors. This includes the type of verification you choose, the depth of your search, or whether it's done in-house or with a third-party.

Usually, local employee verifications take between one and three days. International employee verification can take between 10 to 20 days.

How to perform international employee verification

The exact employee verification process you follow will depend on the location you’re hiring from and the information you need.

In general, the steps to international employee verification are as follows.

1. Determine what types of checks you need 

Don’t waste time and resources performing more checks and verifications than you need to. 

Are you looking to confirm the candidate’s experience? If so, go for a professional reference verification. If you want to confirm their qualifications and training, check for an academic or licensing verification. 

2. Know the law 

In some countries, employee verification checks can be common. In other countries, it's not.

Different countries have their own laws around privacy and access to information. Find out what information you can and can’t access, and who you are allowed to contact according to the laws in the applicant’s home country or state. 

3. Obtain permission from candidates 

This is one of the most important steps in the employee verification process. Inform candidates of the checks you’ll need to perform and ask for their consent to continue. And of course, make sure it's compliant with local laws.

4. Perform the pre-employment screening process 

Run through the necessary checks and screening processes to determine the applicant’s qualifications for the role. For a professional reference check or education verification, you may run into language barriers. Use a translation service if necessary. 

5. Review your findings 

Once you've completed the pre-employment screening process and reviewed the candidate’s extensive work history, it’s time to take a look at all the information you gathered. Based on the data, decide whether the applicant is the right fit for your company. 

How to choose a third-party provider

If you’re looking to outsource your employee verifications and pre-employment screenings, there are a few questions you should ask prospective international employee verification companies. These questions ensure you’ll be working with a reputable and trustworthy verification company.

  • What percentage of employment verifications are you unable to verify? For a reliable provider, this percentage should be 10% or lower. 

  • How many attempts do you make for employment verification? A good provider will contact previous employers up to three times via emails, phone calls, and written correspondence. 

  • How do you assess your verifiers’ work? It’s better for providers to evaluate performance based on the percentage of verifications they complete rather than the number. Prioritizing volume can lead to sloppy or unfinished work, which only increases the chances of errors. 

Simplify international hiring with Remote

International employee verification is just the first step to building a global team. Recruitment, hiring, onboarding, employee management, and payroll are all processes you’ll need to run through after completing background checks. 

If you’re looking to build a trustworthy international team, using a platform like Remote Talent helps you find top global talent. Remote HR Management gives you all the tools you need to grow and manage a global workforce on a single platform.

Chat with Remote to start growing your international business today.

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