Personnel Security


Recruit the right person

Pre-employment checks are the foundation of good personnel security. They reduce the risk of a trusted person harming your organisation or business.

 Pre-employment checks allow you to:

  • confirm the identity, eligibility, and capability of the person you are recruiting
  • find out if an applicant has concealed important information or misrepresented themselves.

Carry out pre-employment checks on everyone you are considering employing, including existing staff changing roles, contractors, and short-term staff. Do not skip pre-employment checks because of a person’s background, work experience, or seniority.

PERSEC1 - Recruit the right person

Ensure that all people working for your organisation (employees, contractors, and temporary staff) who access New Zealand Government information and assets:
• have had their identity established
• have the right to work in New Zealand
• are suitable for having access
• agree to comply with government policies, standards, protocols, and requirements that safeguard people, information, and assets from harm.

Baseline pre-employment checks

Government organisations must carry out all of the following baseline checks at the pre-employment stage. The mandatory base pre-employment checks include:

  • confirming their identity
  • confirming their nationality
  • confirming their right to work in New Zealand
  • checking their references with former employer
  • conducting a criminal record check.

Pre-employment steps

1. Confirm their identity

You must check and verify that an applicant is who they say they are. Sight source documents such as a New Zealand Passport to confirm their identity. 

Be mindful that some people may have an alias (e.g. maiden name) or be known by other first names. Be aware that naming conventions can be different in other cultures.

To make sure you carry out this check properly, follow the Department of Internal Affair’s guidelines: Evidence of Identity Standard.

2. Confirm their right to work in New Zealand

You must make sure that applicants who are not New Zealand citizens have a right to work in New Zealand. To do this you will typically need to confirm their nationality and their visa status.  

Because there are many different work visas with different conditions, you need to clearly establish which visa the applicant holds and what their visa conditions are. Check the applicant can meet the role requirements under their visa conditions.

Check your applicant's visa at VisaView.

3. Complete reference checks

How an applicant has performed and behaved in the past is a good indicator of their future performance and behaviour. Checking references thoroughly gives you an opportunity to:

  • validate information the applicant has given you during the recruitment process
  • confirm the skills and character of the applicant.

Check that any referees are recent, appropriate for the role, and from a legitimate source. If you have any concerns, consider carrying out some of the optional pre-employment checks as well. Overseas referees can be harder to check.

You should conduct reference checks yourself and not rely on an agency. Take thorough notes from verbal checks and file them for future reference.

4. Conduct a criminal record check

You need to carry out a criminal record check to help identify:

  • any history that makes the candidate unsuitable for the role
  • any steps to manage risk that you might need to put in place if they are hired.

Under the Vulnerable Children’s Act, candidates for some roles need an additional police check. Go to Police Vetting for more information. 

For applicants who are overseas residents or recent immigrants, consider whether you need to do an offshore criminal history check. The NZ Police can facilitate submitting a request for an Australian National Police History Check. Go to Police Vetting for more information.

For New Zealand citizens and residents who have been here for some time, carry out a Ministry of Justice check. Go to Ministry of Justice Criminal Record Check for more information.

If you have any concerns arising from the criminal record check, consider carrying out some of the optional pre-employment checks, such as a drug and alcohol check.

Optional checks to consider

When you identify an increased security risk related to a specific role or the nature of your organisation’s work, additional checks could be necessary. For example, for an IT administrator who has broad access to your organisation’s information, you may wish to take greater steps to ensure they are trustworthy and don’t have factors in their life that would increase the risk that they could become an insider threat.

The additional checks that you apply will depend on a range of factors including your organisation’s operating environment, security context and culture.

Psychometric testing

Psychometric testing is used to test skill levels in a variety of areas and to give an analysis of the applicant’s personality traits.

Credit check

A credit check is a commercial check of public records associated with the applicant’s financial history and any associations with businesses.

Be aware that the results of credit checks can be subjective. Make sure you:

  • get an appropriately experienced person to review the results
  • have policies and processes to address any questions that a check brings up.  

Qualification check

A qualification check helps to verify whether a person is qualified to perform a particular role.

Use it to help your organisation to find out if educational qualifications, professional body memberships, or practising certificates listed in a CV are legitimate. If a qualification is critical to the role, make sure you sight original documents rather than copies.

New Zealand Police check

A New Zealand Police check is more complete than a criminal record check from the Ministry of Justice, so can give you more assurance about a candidate’s suitability for a role.  

A NZ Police check must be carried out for some roles under the Vulnerable Children’s Act.

Checks for national security clearance holders 

The vetting process for staff who need a national security clearance includes mandatory checks. Be cautious about employing a person before the vetting process is complete to avoid employment issues. Go to managing national security clearance holders for more information about managing the national security clearance process well.

Mitigate any concerns

If you have any concerns arising from the pre-employment checks, you should assess the risks in relation to the role the person is being employed for and determine whether the risks can be mitigated.

It is good practice to record any concerns, risk assessments and decisions to mitigate risks.

If a person is being employed with any identified risks, work with them to create an individual risk management plan.

Page last modified: 3/10/2018

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