What is Involved in a Background Check?

So you’ve successfully passed through the interviews and you are the top candidate for the position.  Congratulations!  But before you pop the champagne, you’ve got to get ready for the background check.   While the scope and depth of the background check can vary considerably from company to company, most background checks will have certain components in common:  
References.  Almost every potential employer will need to talk to your references before hiring you.  Most employers will ask for two to three references.  At least one of your references should be a direct supervisor and at least two of your references should be work related.  If you are seeking a management position, the employer may want to speak to someone that you have supervised.  The employer will use the reference check to find any skeletons in your closet and to verify your work history.

Photo Identification.  It goes without saying that any employer will need to verify that you are who you say you are.  For this reason, you will need to provide two pieces of photo identification and your SIN card.

Education Credentials.  You need to be prepared to provide evidence of any diplomas, degrees or certificates that you’ve listed on your resume.  Some employers may even ask for transcripts.

Credit History.  Some employers will want to check your credit history, particularly if you’re going to be handling money or financial information in the job.

Criminal Record Check.  Many employers will require that you undergo a criminal record check.  This may be a necessity if you are handling cash, if your position needs you to be bonded, or if people will be placed under your care.

Drivers’ Abstract.  If you will be driving in your job, the employer will probably need to see a clean drivers’ abstract.

Online Search.  What will the employer find if they Google your name?  You had better find out because there is a good chance that they’ll do it.  It would also be a good idea for you to clean up your social media profiles to make sure there are no compromising photos, videos, or comments that the employer may be able to see.

Depending on the position and the scope of the background check, it may or may not be something that you are comfortable with.  When considering whether or not you want to proceed, consider the following:

Do you have all of the details of the position?  If you don’t know what the company is offering, you can’t determine if it’s worth jumping through hoops for the background check.  Ask the employer if they are willing to provide some information about the position before you sign off on the background check.

Is this information relevant to the job?  Does the background check make sense when you consider the position you are applying for or is it a little over top?  For example, if they want to conduct a credit check when you aren’t dealing with money or financial information, or a drivers’ abstract when you won’t be driving, you may want to let the employer know that you feel that the checks are too invasive.

Are they asking you for passwords?  No employer, under any circumstances, should ask for any of your passwords.  They have no right to be able to access your account.  You may even want to take a second look at any employer that would make such a request.  If the employer does ask for your password, you can let them know that it is against the terms of service (as it usually is) and that you aren’t comfortable with giving them that information.  It is unlikely that any employer (that you want to work with) will hold it against you.

Is it a one time check or can they look into your records at any time?  It is important that you read the fine print on the consent form that you are signing.  Are you just consenting to a one time check of your records or can they go back and check on you at any time?

Remember, if you do decide that you are not comfortable with the background check that they are proposing, you always have the right to say no.  It does not necessarily mean that they will remove you from consideration, although it is possible.  Are you afraid that they may find something in the background check?  If so, then you may want to let them know ahead of time.  It is always better if you disclose it than if they find it on their own.

(Written by: Karen Bivand)

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