Do Employers Background Check You Before Giving You a Job?

by / ⠀Career Advice / January 4, 2023
An employment background check is now a default part of the recruitment and job interview process. But what are your rights as an applicant?

According to recent research, almost 95% of employers require prospective hires to undergo some type of background screening, which can include a credit check. There are several reasons why employers want background information. For example, an employment background check might be required if government security clearance is mandated for the position you’ve applied for.

A credit report can provide insight into a candidate’s financial reliability for positions involving accounting or financial responsibility in general. You need to know what your rights are and what information a potential employer will find when you provide consent to a background check during the recruitment process.

When do employers conduct background checks?

Many employers conduct reference and background checks in the pre-employment stage and before extending a job offer.

In certain situations, the job offer may depend on the results of the screening. If the employer finds negative data, they can rescind the offer.

What does a background check show?

An applicant’s education, employment, and criminal history are just some answers to the question of what a background check shows.

More detailed checks also reveal driving history, credit history, address history, incidences of drug use, social media use, ID verification, etc.

Which employees do companies check?

Statistics show that 90% of organizations that run background checks on potential employees check all full-time employees.

At the other end of the scale, only 44% check unpaid workers like volunteers. Just under 60% perform checks on temp workers and contractors, and 83% check all part-time staff.

How long does the process take?

Usually, a background check takes 24–72 hours to run. It can take longer depending on whether the employer requests additional screening and on the scope of the check.

Why do companies do background checks?

Background checks are popular for many reasons.

The employer may want to carry out verification. Evidence suggests around a third of resumes contain embellished or outright false information, so the employer wants to make sure your information is truthful.

The employer faces damage to their reputation if it emerges they hired someone with false qualifications.

For example, an employer might run a background check to see if you actually worked for a previous company when you claim you did or if you graduated from the college as stated on your resume or job application.

Employers must ask for permission.

Employers must ask for and obtain written consent before performing a background or credit check from a screening service.

They have to inform you if something in your report makes them decide not to hire you. You’re also entitled to a copy of the report. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) mandates this, and its regulations are meant to protect you.

Breaches can lead to legal action.

Compliance breaches on this level can result in legal action. For example, companies have to fulfill the requirements of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) when carrying out a background check for the purpose of employment.

The FCRA has a number of detailed policies and steps that employers must follow. They affect everything from the consent form to the process of notifying an applicant of an adverse employment decision.

When do employers face liability for negligent hiring?

In a professional setting, you can run a background screening on anyone. Landlords, employers, and other people have to check candidates to protect themselves from a legal perspective.

More seriously, an employer who hires someone with a record of violent crimes can be sued for negligent hiring if that person hurts a customer or a coworker. Employers do not want this liability and are aware that failing to perform a screening generally poses a bigger legal risk to them than performing one.

Final Thoughts

The FCRA and other laws related to background checks can be complex and hard to understand at first. Still, most employers background check potential employees, and the majority never face any legal issues.

Employers need to be very careful about complying with the FCRA because failing to do so can be costly. Companies should take the time to learn the guidelines and rules and establish effective policies to protect themselves from negligent hiring claims without risking compliance lapses.


  • An employer must obtain your written consent before conducting a background check.
  • The majority of employers conduct background checks during the interview and hiring process.

About The Author

Kimberly Zhang

Editor in Chief of Under30CEO. I have a passion for helping educate the next generation of leaders.