Background Checks – What Job Applicants Really Need to Know

Background Checks – What Job Applicants Really Need to Know

Q1. What you need to know when answering background check questions?

What do you think is the most important quality employers look for in prospective candidates during the hiring process? According to hiring experts, that quality is ‘Honesty’. But from a candidate’s perspective, ‘acting honestly’ is perhaps not the first thing that comes to mind to impress employers. Nevertheless, it is absolutely essential.

As per a recent OSHA report, almost 2 million U.S. workers face violence at workplace every year. Surveys have also revealed that more than 50% of the candidates lie in their resumes, either to up their credentials or hide some truth. In such a scenario, it is obvious that employers are in a constant hunt for trustworthy candidates who fill out their application form, completely and accurately, even if it means disclosing blemished past.

Q2. What are the different types of background checks?

The answer differs from industry to industry, largely depending on the job specifics. However, the most common types of background checks are as follows:

  • Criminal Checks to reveal any record of felonies, convictions or misdemeanors conducted in the past.
  • Employment Verification to confirm the applicant’s employment with current and past employers.
  • Drug Screening to discern whether the applicant has been involved in drug and alcohol abuse in the past.
  • Education Verification to confirm the qualification and accreditation listed on the applicant’s resume.
  • Credit Report to identify candidates with a poor credit record.
  • Social Security Verification to prevent any chances of identity fraud.

Q3. Does an employer need to have your consent before running a background check?

As per FCRA, the employer needs to have the job applicant’s authorization in writing before running a background check on him/her. This becomes even more important when the screening report pertains to accessing the applicant’s consumer report information.

Q4. Do you have the right to see the background check information that goes to the employer?

Every employee has the right to get a copy of background screening report that goes to the employer. This copy can be provided by either the employer or the background screening agency upon request. The job applicant needs to check mark a box provided in screening form that will allow them to get a copy when screening process is completed.

Q5. Should you hide something about your past from your employer?

In these competitive times, it is only natural for job applicants to get tempted to hide or tamper some facts relevant to the job position. But when it comes to background checks, there’s no such thing as getting away with a blemished past. The truth is going to be revealed anyway when the employer runs a thorough background check on the applicants. If not anything else, saying the truth upfront might add some points to their credibility. In contrast, withholding important facts takes away their last chances of getting selected for the position.

Q6. How to go about getting a fingerprint record check?

If you are an applicant and asked by a prospective employer to submit your fingerprint-based background check report, here’s how to go about it.

For getting fingerprinted, you need to carry your photo ID and social security number. Get a criminal background check application form. Fill it up in clear handwriting. Be mindful of putting in accurate information. Always double check the address at which you want the results to be sent. The agency running the fingerprint record checks will not be liable, if you put a wrong address in the form.

Follow the prompts, get the impression of your fingerprints on cards or get it scanned (as the case may be) and submit the application form with your prospective employer or licensing agency. You should be expecting to receive the results in two weeks.

Q7. Will a DUI affect your ability to get a job?

Driving a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or other drugs results in DUI (Driving Under the Influence) conviction. DUI can have a crucial impact on applicants’ ability to get a job, especially when driving a car is part of the job description. The job applicants are often concerned about the length of time that DUI stays on the driver’s record. The answer depends on which state it happened in, as the time period varies by each state and even more importantly, on drunk driver’s level of intoxication.

Q8. What can you do to speed up background checks?

Even in the contemporary times, verification is primarily old school. It involves probing past employers via telephone and the correspondence is usually received as fax, post or e-mail. Needless to say, the cycle can get disturbingly slow at times. The least you can do to fasten the cycle is to do your bit.

  • The best way to expedite your background checks is to collect and keep all your key documents ready as mandated by law. Doing this proactively will help you shorten the turnaround time. Usually, it’s the documentation part that takes the most of the screening time.
  • Next, always fill your forms legibly. Showing slackening or carelessness in filling out the job application or background checks request form leads to unnecessary delays. As an applicant, you should try to do it right in the first go itself. When you fill out the forms required by your employer or lender, completely and correctly, it saves a great deal of time for you.
  • And lastly, always get the updated contact information of your school/college/employer so that there are no lags in the completion of verification.

Q9. How far back do background checks go?

Generally, screening information pertaining to criminal records can go back as far as 7 years. But this is not a strictly defined rule, and it has many exceptions and variations. The period of time from which an employer can cite a candidate’s criminal history in their decision of the candidate’s applicant status can vary by state or by the type of infraction. Furthermore, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) sets the following limitations sorted by type of infraction:

  • Bankruptcies – Not more than 10 years from the date of adjudication
  • Paid tax liens – Not more than 7 years
  • Accounts placed for collection or charged to profit and loss – Not more than 7 years
  • Civil suits and civil judgments – Not more than 7 years
  • Any arrest record – Not more than 7 years
  • Any other adverse information, other than records of convictions – Not more than 7 years

Q10. What should you do if you find the information on your background check to be inaccurate?

Candidates are often perplexed about what to do if they find inaccurate information in their background screening report. In such a situation, the smart thing to do is inform the employer as well as the background screening agency. Ideally, the screener should revisit the source of inaccuracy, verify the information and share the updated information with employer and job candidate.