What is a Background Check for a Job?

Pre-employment background checks are a critical component of the hiring process to obtain additional information about the candidates.

It can help you to avoid hiring the wrong people for your company which can ultimately cost you a lot of money.

This is the reason why according to Shortlister, around 95% of the employees in the United States undergo some kind of background check before officially being hired for a job.

If you have also applied for a job and waiting for your pre-employment background check to complete, it can be helpful to know what is your new employer looking for exactly.

In this article, everything you need to know about how a background check for a job works, how far back they will check, and how long it may take to complete. Let’s dive right in!


What is an Employment Background Check?  

A pre-employment background check, also known as background screening or employment verification, is typically conducted during the recruitment of new candidates to ensure that they have attended the institutions and worked for the companies listed on their resumes.

Background checks are conducted by third-party to and may include a combination of the investigation into the candidate’s background, education, employment history, credit history, financial and criminal records, and even social media activity.

Read: What Is A Felony Charges Background Check?

Why do Employers Use Background Checks?  

Why do Employers Use Background Checks

Employers use a background check to find out whether you have been truthful about the information stated on your job application and resume to reduce the chances of a bad hire. 

Hiring the wrong candidate due to inefficient background screening can cost the organization huge losses and even unnecessary lawsuits.

Background checks help employers find information that is typically tougher to uncover through the traditional hiring process.

The top reasons why employers conduct background checks are:

  • Make a correct and informed decision while hiring a candidate. 
  • Prevent organizations against liability claims
  • Protect the company’s assets 
  • Comply with local, federal, state, and industry regulations
  • Maintain a secure work environment. 


How Does Employment Background Check Work?  

Before conducting a background check, employers notify the candidates to get written authorization.

However, if the employer is conducting inquiries on their own, they are not legally required consent from the candidate to call their former employers. 

The process involves a wide range of searches, from a simple verification of your social security number to a more in-depth check into your work history, credit records, bankruptcy, vehicle registration, medical records, drug test results, property records, and criminal records information. 

For example, whether the potential candidate has actually graduated from the college mentioned or worked at a company during the period stated, how they manage their credit, do they have any bankruptcies or criminal records, their social media habits, and many other factors to see if the person they are hiring is the right fit for the job.

Hear it from Reddit users:

So exactly do pre employment background checks work?
by u/Accomplished-Let5399 in jobs

Read: The Importance Of Employee Screening

What Does Employment Background Check Reveal?

What Does Employment Background Check Reveal

Here’s what an employment background check reveals:

Credit History

Employers may be interested in checking your credit history to know how responsible you are with your money and finances.

This information is especially helpful to them if you are applying for a position that involves you handling money, such as for a banking job, accountant job, etc.

Criminal Record

A background check can reveal a great deal of information about a person’s criminal record. And accessing a person’s criminal record is very important to ensure safety at a workplace.

However, the good thing is businesses are required to follow certain rules while accessing criminal records.

For example: If two employees of different races or ethnicity have the same criminal record, then the employer cannot show prejudice by hiring one of them and rejecting the other based on it.

Employment history

You must not lie on your resume because anything you lie about can be found in your background check report.

As for the employer, the employment history helps them to identify any red flags and to cross-check the information provided by you.

Driving Records

If your job requires you to drive the company’s vehicle or use it frequently for business use, then the employer will check your driving records too.

This helps them to save on insurance and to avoid any issues that may come their way.


What is the Turnaround Time for Employment Background Check?  

There is no specific answer to this question because each background check is different. The average turnaround time for a background check is between 2 to 5 business days.

This depends on the type of the job and the information requested by the employer.

However, the timeframe can prolong even more due to a lack of paper trail, multiple ongoing background checks, multiple residences, international experience, or delay in signing authorization forms. 


Read: What Does A Background Check Show?

Check Out 10 Best Advanced Background Check Sites

How To Successfully Prepare For A Background Check?

How To Prepare For A Background Check

Here’s how you can prepare for a background check:

  • Be honest: The first and most important thing is to be honest, and not to lie about anything on your resume. This is because anything you lie about will be eventually revealed in your background check report, and you will probably be rejected after this.
  • Check your records: Access your driving, court, education, and other records and ensure it is in check to avoid surprises during the employment background check.
  • Check your credit report: Access and check your credit report also and if you find any discrepancies in it, then get it fixed before your employment background check.


Wrapping Up

In this article on what is a background check for a job, we shared all the details that you should know before appearing for an employment background check.

We shared how you can prepare for it, what information background checks reveal, etc. Hope this was helpful.

People Also Ask For

Will the employer tell me the reason if I fail the background check?

According to the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act), the employers must take your permission before running a background check on you and also share the summary of the report with you in case you fail the check.

Why do employers do background checks?

Employers do a background check to ensure that the candidate they are hiring does not have a criminal record, bad past, poor driving record, etc., to avoid potential issues in their company.

What more information can be revealed in an employment background check?

Apart from the ones mentioned above, an employment background check might also reveal your social media profile, references, etc.

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