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What you need to know about background checks and how to prepare for one.

For the most part, background checks have become routine when hiring new employees. As a company investigates your professional and personal history, they want to ensure that a new employee will not become a liability to the company.  

According to Indeed, a background check can occur at any time during the hiring process. However, most commonly, it will be found when one nears the end of the process or when they formally receive the offer contingent upon passing the background check.  

As this post uncovers the aspects of a background check, additionally it will provide crucial information all job candidates need to prepare for an upcoming background check.   

What consists of a background check?  

As employers get ready to make a job offer to their top candidates, they are also getting ready to begin a background check. Standard amongst most jobs, background checks are required for all HEPCO employees and contractors. While no federal law mandates employers to conduct a background check on all employees, individuals working in education, finance, law and other government jobs should expect some form of background check to take place before starting their new role. 

As the average cost to hire an individual is $4,129, companies want to ensure that the individual will not pose a risk to the company, as to why it is extremely important for organizations to conduct a background check on all new hires.  

An investigation in an individual’s history, a background check looks at a candidate’s past work performance, driving record, criminal records, and social media use to ensure that they are the right person for the job. While background checks are an in-depth look into a candidate’s history, employers are only allowed to request information from the past ten years.   

 An essential screening in the job search process, a background check serves as a critical reminder for individuals not to lie on their resumes. In addition, the background check will reveal any falsities that one might have put on their application.   

Types of Background Checks  

Scoutlogic, a business to business, background screening service, breaks background checks into three types. These background checks include criminal checks, verification checks, and ad-hoc checks.   

1. Criminal Checks looks into one’s criminal background to see if the individual at any point had any brushes with the law.   

Some types of files that one might dig into when conducting a criminal background check include:  

  • National Criminal File  
  • Sex offender Registry  
  • Terrorist Watchlist 
  • Country Criminal Records  
  • State-Wide Criminal Records  
  • Federal Criminal Records    
  • International Criminal Search  

In most cases, companies will try to investigate as many of these files as possible, as not every state or county is included in one criminal report.  

2. The Verification Check ensures that the individual is truthful about their credentials. During a verification check, employers will investigate:  

  • Employment History  
  • Education History  
  • References  
  • Professional Licenses  

3.  Finally, the last type of background check is an Ad Hoc Background check, which looks at additional elements of one’s background. These include:   

  • Drug Tests   
  • Probations in Healthcare Programs  
  • Candidates’ Credit Information 
  • Civil Records 
  • Transportation and Vehicle Records   

In a background check, while most information will apply to all jobs, there are some parts in which more scrutiny will be placed on some roles rather than others.  

For instance, a poor driving history might disqualify an individual from working a job that requires a license. Additionally, a candidate’s credit information is important to companies looking to hire an executive or file a type of financial role. Even individuals working with children or for the federal or local government are expected to pass a drug test before beginning work.  

What to do to Prepare for Your Background check:  

As you prepare for your background check to take place, start by being aware of what might show up.  While you cannot hide your past mistakes, you can be prepared to respond to an employer’s questioning if a red flag may appear on the results. 

Frist off, be aware that most companies use an outside company to perform a background check, as not all places have the resources needed to be through in their investigation.  

While there are few preventive measures one can take for a clean background check, other than being diligent throughout the past ten years; one measure is cleaning up one’s social media profile. In the past, over 50% of employers have chosen not to hire an individual based on information the company has found on candidate’s social media profiles.  

Make sure to turn all your profiles private and delete any posts or information you would not want your employer to see from your social media.  

As for driving and credit history, individuals can request these records, so one can be prepared to explain a driving situation if a license is needed for the job or to familiarize yourself again with your credit information.  

Additionally, read about the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which was passed in 1970 to allocate for “fair, accurate, and private background checks.”   As a job candidate, it is important to hold the company responsible to give you a fair background check.   


While part of the job search process is not always discussed, background checks are integral to hiring the right candidate for the job. As this process is done without the individual’s involvement, employees should still be educated about this vital part of the process.