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. 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.

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 the 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.

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. 

USW Overall Rating

Leave a Comment