Finally! You just got an offer for your dream job, and now there’s just one more step to go: a background check. Why does your future boss feel the need to conduct these checks? Do they think you’re a secret spy or a wolf in sheep’s clothing?
While background checks may reveal criminal convictions, they can also provide other types of insight into a candidate beyond what’s on their record. A seasoned HR professional can use these key pieces of information to form a deeper understanding of a candidate.
The following may provide insights that your future employer might glean from your background check:
1. Do you have a criminal record?
A surprising amount of Americans have some sort of criminal record. According to reports, at the end of 2003, around 68 million people (one in four adults) had a criminal record. Although many of these people fear that these convictions may automatically disqualify them for a job, that’s not always the case.
Many employers may evaluate the type of conviction and how it would relate to the job position. For example, if a person received a DUI, but they applied for a data entry job, the employer may find this criminal record irrelevant. There are certain cases, however, that may disqualify a candidate; a financial conviction or crime of dishonesty, such as theft or fraud, could very well prohibit you from working in the banking industry, or a DUI may prevent you from being a commercial driver.
Some employers might also consider the amount of time that has passed since a candidate’s conviction and if you were honest about the criminal record up front. Just because a person has a record does not mean they won’t land a great job. In fact some places, including this well-known restaurant in Cleveland, go out of their way to give former criminal offenders a second chance.
2. Are you responsible?
Similar to the point above, an employer may be interested in your credit history if applicable to the position you are applying for. When applying for a financial position or one that has access to sensitive information, a credit history check may provide insight into the level of responsibility a candidate may have.
Some employers may assume that a candidate in financial distress might have more reason to conduct fraud or sell company information.
3. What kind of employee are you?
You may have met (or even are) the type of person who, on paper, seems like the perfect employee, but in reality is difficult to work with. Professional and personal references allow an employer to see beyond a candidate’s technical qualifications and evaluate their interpersonal skills.
4. Do you have any bad habits that might affect your quality of work?
Depending on company policy, you may be drug or alcohol tested before your start date. Some employment positions, such as drivers or nurses, may require that you be frequently tested. Sensitive positions like these carry more related risk if something goes wrong. Employers like to minimize risk by making sure their employees are performing their job responsibilities with a clear mind.
5. How long will you stay at an organization?
Although the main reason for most employers to check your employment history is to verify your experience, some other aspects of your work history may be uncovered. Some employers may think it is troubling to see large gaps in steady employment, or they may see a restless worker if none of your jobs were held for more than a year. Turnover rate is a number that all companies track diligently.
6. Are you trustworthy and honest?
Many people think that an impressive resume will automatically get them the job, but at the end of the day, companies and organizations are made up of real people. Employers want to work with people who are honest and positive. I have seen the rejection of many impressive resumes, only to be surpassed by someone who might have been less experienced, but eager to learn.
Background checks are designed merely to verify information you’ve already provided. You really have nothing to fear from even the most thorough background check, if you are completely transparent on your resume and job application. Remember, the principal reason employers conduct background checks is to ensure workplace safety and help, not hinder you, from getting the job.