What You Need to Know About Background Checks


  • You applied for that job you’ve wanted.
  • You made it through a few interviews, all of which seemed to go well.
  • You wake up and get the email you’ve been waiting for.

They’ve offered you the job.

You just have to pass a background check.

Background checks are a common procedure for hundreds of employers across the country. They are most common for jobs that require high levels of security. A few examples include financial, childcare, and healthcare industries, as well as government work. Employers do so to ensure their candidates are qualified for the job sought.

If you are applying for a job that requires a background check, it’s important to know what the process entails. Every company has a different process when it comes to background screenings.

Keep reading to learn more about background checks and what you need to know.

What Are the Different Elements of a Background Check?

A background check is more or less an umbrella term. It includes a variety of tests that an employer may run before hiring a candidate. If you are undergoing this process for a job, you may encounter one or more of the following types of screenings.

  • Drug Test: Although drug tests aren’t all that common, you may still encounter employers that require them. To pass a drug test, you must make sure your system is clear of any of the substances that the employer is testing for. How long a drug stays in your system depends on your body as well as the type of drug. If there is a faint line on drug test results, it means that whatever substance is being tested is low enough to be counted as negative. However, this result is difficult for those with drug addiction to achieve.

 If you’re worrying about achieving a faint line on drug test, you may need to consider treatment before you’re able to pass a drug test.

  • Criminal Background Check: When people picture a background check, this is what they usually think of first. During this check, an employer will dive into your criminal history. If you don’t have a record, you shouldn’t have to worry about this section. This test may include searches on national criminal databases, sex offender registries, domestic and global watch lists, and more.

Many states have passed fair chance hiring laws to help those with prior convictions find employment. If you are worried about your record interfering with a background check, read up on some of these laws. You may also be able to discuss the context of those convictions with your employer.

  • Credit Check: You may be most familiar with credit checks when applying for a loan or credit card. However, some employers also run credit checks to learn how potential candidates handle their credit and their debts. Credit checks may be more likely to occur if you are applying for jobs in the financial services industry.
  • E-Verify: E-verify is used to determine whether new employees are eligible to work in the U.S. The process usually compares an employee’s current I-9 form with government records. This is an optional check for most employers, but some states require it for certain private and public employers, as well as federal contractors.
  • OIG Background Checks: This type of test, conducted in part through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, looks for people who have committed health-care-related crimes. It is meant to prevent them from working in federally funded healthcare programs.


These are just a few of the background checks you might encounter during the hiring process. Other tests may be applicable depending on the industry.

To land your next job and advance your career, always be prepared for a background check. The more prepared you are, the better you’ll feel as you start the process.


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