Partner Series
What Do Employers Look for in a Background Check?
Credit: Job Interview Image via Shutterstock

You know the drill: when you want a new job, you have to pony up the personal information. While it seems more like a medical exam than a job interview, your boss needs to reduce the time wasted on poor hiring by checking out just about every possible point of your character, so it had better be in order. (You can also check your own background.)
background check for employment
At the bare basics, a quick prospective background check for employment will look for a criminal or drug history – no company wants an employee that has a past burglary charge ransacking the office supplies. But a more in-depth background check can also be obtained that gives a potential employer a better look at your past and any behavior that could affect your performance at work. Here’s some of the stuff that an employer could unearth via background check according to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse:

  • Education background
  • Driving records
  • Court records
  • Worker’s compensation claims
  • Past employers
  • Drug testing results
  • Criminal charges and sentencing
  • Bankruptcy claims
  • References
  • Medical records
  • Property ownership
  • Sex offender history

While it might seem intrusive, a potential employer has to protect the time and integrity of the company. So every possible angle is considered. Since it’s difficult to conceal your education history or past behavior from an employer, it’s best to be up front about any questionable items that could turn up on your background check. Sure, you might have claimed bankruptcy three years ago, but if it had to do with a bad divorce or business deal, explaining it makes it look less fishy to the person interviewing you.

And don’t worry; some of your past won’t come back to haunt you when it comes to getting a job. The PRC notes that certain items cannot be included on a background check to protect your info. Items such as bankruptcies after 10 years, civil lawsuits after seven years and other negative information about you after seven years is basically stricken from the record, so that minor offense you had as a teenager won’t ruin your chances for nailing an interview and snagging the job you want.

As long as you’re honest about any questionable information on your background check, it shouldn’t be the thing that stands in the way of you and your dream job – just make sure you keep it clean for future reference and job opps.