What Is the Vetting Process? Everything You Need To Know

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 7 November 2022

Published 30 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The vetting process is a necessary part of recruitment for many employers and is used to verify a candidate's background information and determine if they're a good fit. There are several ways that a company can conduct the pre-screening process, from interviewing to verifying educational certificates. It can help potential employees to be prepared for this eventuality when seeking work by understanding the vetting procedure. In this article, we explore what the vetting process is, why it matters and the steps that are involved so that you know how to best succeed when applying for your next role.

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What is the vetting process?

If you're wondering 'what is the vetting process?', it might be because every company has a slightly different pre-screening process. Generally, vetting is the process of investigating a candidate's background and qualifications before their employment with a company. The vetting process is a good way to ensure an employee is an excellent match for a job and delves deeper into the candidate's background.

Because different companies value different things, background checks can include several different kinds of searches. These may include:

  • Identity checks, such as identity confirmation, passport validation, national insurance validation, right to work checks, driving licence status check, address verification or electoral roll search

  • Financial checks, such as bankruptcy or insolvency checks, CCJ checks, credit scores or notices of correction checks.

  • Education checks, such as verification of highest education or verification of all education (secondary school upwards), evidence of professional qualifications or proof of professional memberships

  • Employment history checks spanning anywhere between six months to several years

  • Criminal record checks

Although there may be different screening considerations for every role, all pre-employment screening aims to obtain information about prospective or existing staff. It also acts as a way to ensure that the information you provide in your CV and cover letter meets all employment requirements.

Related: How long do DBS checks take? (With types and stages)

Why employers vet candidates

The vetting process allows employers to look into the information job candidates give them during the application process to ensure it's true. There are several reasons why the law requires employers to adhere to a vetting process, and these include:

  • Ensuring a candidate has the right to work in the UK. All employers are required by law to check that job candidates are allowed to work in the UK before being hired.

  • Ensuring a candidate has a clear criminal record. Companies can request a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check or a more detailed criminal record check for someone applying for a role in specific industries like healthcare or childcare.

  • Ensuring a candidate meets the health requirements of a specific job. Health checks are required for jobs that have a legal requirement to provide this information, such as eye checks for commercial vehicle drivers, or because it's necessary for insurance purposes, such as with cycle courier roles.

  • Ensuring a candidate meets educational requirements. Certain jobs require proof of a particular level of academic or practical training, usually in the form of some certification, such as having a PGCE qualification to become a teacher.

Beyond these legal requirements, there are also several practical reasons why employers choose to administer pre-screening procedures on all candidates. These include:

  • Eliminating or confirming that a candidate is fit for a role. Vetting allows employers to move forward with only qualified candidates. Screening allows employers to eliminate candidates that they feel may not be a good fit, whether it's because a candidate is unqualified for the role or because the employer feels they may not fit in well with the particular company's culture.

  • Saving money. The vetting process can help employers lower the costs of hiring new employees by identifying those candidates who are better suited to the role early on in the hiring process. This can allow them to spend more time interviewing individuals they feel are a good fit rather than continuing to spend money on advertising or on the vetting process itself.

  • Reducing overall hiring time. Employers can identify the most qualified candidates right away by screening candidates and focus on processing this smaller pool of candidates rather than continuing through the process with a more significant number of candidates who may not fit the role. Only scheduling the most qualified individuals for interviews streamlines the entire process and reduces overall turnaround.

Related: 6 Stages of an Effective Recruitment Process

Steps in the screening process

To be fully prepared for any screening checks that may take place while you go through the hiring process, it's helpful to know the steps involved and what your responsibilities are as a potential employee. These may vary between employers, but the most general vetting steps include:

  • Initial candidate screening. This comprises the time employers spend reading through applications and CVs to determine which candidates are a good fit and have the relevant qualifications on paper.

  • Phone and video screening. After going over a candidate's CV, someone from the hiring team often organises a brief phone call or video meeting. These screenings are a way to open a dialogue between company and candidate, to ask questions about work or educational history and to get an idea of your personality and communication skills.

  • In-person or video interviewing. An in-person or video interview is a more formal way for employers to ask candidates job-specific questions to understand what they'd bring to the company. Interviews allow employers to ultimately see whether the candidate is going to be a good match for a job and are often the determining factors of an employer's hiring decisions.

  • Background checks. Mostly associated with proving a candidate's credentials and legal fit for a position, background checks often include a criminal record check but may also include health checks, educational checks and any other check needed for a specific role.

  • Reference checks. References are character and work testimonials from people who have worked with you, employed you or can attest to your credentials in some capacity. References can come from different sources, but many employers request one from a previous manager at least.

Related: Job Interview Tips: How to Make a Great Impression

Tips to help you prepare for pre-employment screening

Remember that the vetting process exists to help both the employer and prospective employee figure out if the job and candidate match each other. There are several ways to be as prepared as possible for the screening process to make the most of your and your potential employer's valuable time. Some tips to help you prepare for screening include:

  • Tailoring your application for different jobs. Alter your application for each role to match what the job description is asking for. This can help you highlight the skills and experience that reflect what the employer wants from a new hire.

  • Prepare in advance for interviews. Because many interviews follow a formal structure to some extent, you can prepare in advance by researching common interview questions for the role and ensuring you can answer these satisfactorily.

  • Follow all application instructions. A great way to screen new candidates right away is to ensure that they've followed all necessary application instructions, so read these carefully to make sure you've properly addressed, formatted and submitted your application.

  • Be open and honest about your background. If you have reason to think that a potential employer might flag something from your background during the vetting process, it's helpful to be honest about these concerns upfront. Whether you have a minor charge against your name or haven't received a confirmed certificate for a qualification, being honest immediately saves everyone time in the long run.

  • Run a background check on yourself. If you're curious to know exactly how your background check looks to a potential employer, running one on yourself is certainly an option. Running a background check on yourself is a good way to ensure that your records are accurate and up-to-date.

  • Report inaccurate information. If you find that some of the information held about you and obtained during a screening process is incorrect, report it to the proper authorities and provide proof of the correct information where possible.

  • Inform your references. It's courteous and professional to inform any references you have listed on your CV that you have submitted an application and that they may be required to speak on your behalf. This can give them time to prepare the most relevant information for the job for which you're applying.


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