Employers often conduct background checks on potential employees as part of their hiring process. An employment background check is a process that involves verifying a candidate’s qualifications, work history, criminal record, credit history, and other information to ensure they are a suitable candidate for the job. If you’re in the process of job hunting, it’s essential to know what to expect during an employment background check. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the various steps involved in a typical background check.
Step 1: Verifying Identity and Legal Authorization to Work
The first step in an employment background check is verifying the candidate’s identity and legal authorization to work in the United States. This typically involves providing a government-issued ID, such as a driver’s license or passport, and completing an I-9 form to confirm eligibility to work in the U.S. Employers may also conduct a Social Security number trace to confirm the candidate’s identity and check for any aliases or previous names used.
Step 2: Employment History Verification
Employers will typically verify the candidate’s employment history by contacting their previous employers or checking with a background check company that specializes in employment history verification. This process involves checking dates of employment, job titles, duties, and reasons for leaving previous positions. Employers may also verify the candidate’s education and any professional licenses or certifications they hold.
Step 3: Criminal Background Check
A criminal background check is a standard part of most employment background checks. This process involves searching local, state, and federal criminal records for any past criminal convictions or charges. Employers are typically looking for any violent or serious crimes, as well as any convictions that may be relevant to the job the candidate is applying for. However, employers must comply with federal and state laws regarding background checks and avoid discrimination against applicants based on their criminal history.
Step 4: Credit History Check
Employers may also conduct a credit history check to assess the candidate’s financial responsibility, particularly if the job involves handling money or sensitive financial information. This process involves looking at the candidate’s credit score and report to identify any red flags such as a history of missed payments or high levels of debt. However, employers must comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act and provide the candidate with a copy of their credit report if requested.
Step 5: Drug Testing
Some employers require candidates to undergo drug testing as part of their background check, particularly for safety-sensitive or federally regulated positions. This process typically involves providing a urine or blood sample, which is then tested for various substances, including illegal drugs and prescription medications.
Step 6: Social Media Check
Employers may also conduct a social media check to get a sense of the candidate’s online presence and reputation. This process involves searching the candidate’s social media profiles for any inappropriate content, such as posts or comments that are discriminatory, harassing, or offensive. However, employers must comply with federal and state laws regarding privacy and avoid using social media to discriminate against applicants based on protected characteristics.
Step 7: Reference Check
Finally, employers may conduct a reference check to verify the candidate’s work history and qualifications. This process involves contacting the candidate’s previous employers or professional references and asking questions about the candidate’s work performance, reliability, and character. It’s essential to have a list of references ready and to inform them in advance that they may be contacted by potential employers.
Preparing for an Employment Background Check
If you’re in the job market, it’s essential to be prepared for an employment background check. Here are a few tips to help you prepare:
1. Gather Necessary Information
Make sure you have all the necessary information on hand, including government-issued IDs, employment history, education, and professional licenses or certifications.