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Why Employers Use Background Checks to Screen Candidates

What is an Employment Background Check and How is it Used by Employers?

When you apply for a job, the company that you have applied to will require you to go through an employment background check. This is because employers need to ensure that they are hiring people who are trustworthy, competent, and do not have any hidden skeletons in their closet. Employment background checks are becoming increasingly common among employers, but what are they, how do they work, and what do they entail?

What is an Employment Background Check?

An employment background check is a process that companies use to verify the information that you provide them. It includes several different checks, such as criminal records, employment history, educational qualifications, credit history, and even social media activity. The aim of the background check is to ensure that the person that they are hiring is who they say they are, and to screen out any potential risks.

How is it Conducted?

Employment background checks can be conducted in various ways, depending on the company's preference or requirements. Most commonly, employers will use third-party companies that specialize in conducting background checks. The company will provide the third-party company with your personal information, such as your name, address, date of birth, and social security number. The third-party company will then use this information to run various checks and compile a report for the employer.

What Does it Entail?

An employment background check will usually include several different checks, depending on the nature of the job and the company's specific requirements. Some of the checks that may be included are:

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1. Criminal Records
This check involves searching for any criminal records that you may have, both locally and nationally. The check may reveal any convictions, charges, or arrests that you have had in the past.

2. Employment History
The employer will want to confirm that the information you have provided about your work history is accurate. They may contact your former employers or request a copy of your employment records.

3. Educational Qualifications
The employer will want to verify that the educational qualifications you have claimed are accurate. They may contact your former educational institutions to confirm your qualifications.

4. Credit History
The employer may want to check your credit history to assess your financial stability and responsibility. This check will show any debts, loans, or bankruptcies that you may have.

5. Social Media Activity
Employers may review your social media activity to gain insight into your character and behavior. They will look for any posts or activity that may contradict your job application or indicate any unsavory behavior.

What are the Benefits of Employment Background Checks?

Employment background checks offer several benefits to employers, including:

1. Risk Mitigation
Employment background checks help employers assess any potential risks that a candidate may pose to the company. This could be anything from a criminal record to a history of fraudulent behavior.

2. Improved Hiring Decision Making
Employment background checks provide employers with an added layer of insight into a candidate's suitability for the role. This helps them make more informed decisions when hiring.

3. Compliance with Legal Obligations
In certain industries, employers are required by law to conduct background checks on potential hires. Employment background checks help ensure that companies are complying with these legal obligations.

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Are There Any Downsides to Employment Background Checks?

While employment background checks offer several benefits, there are also some downsides to consider:

1. Invasion of Privacy
Employment background checks may involve gathering information that candidates may deem to be private, such as their credit history or social media activity.

2. False Positives
In some cases, employment background checks may flag candidates for negative information that is not entirely accurate or relevant to the job at hand.

3. Cost and Time
Conducting employment background checks can be time-consuming and costly, which may not be feasible for some employers, especially smaller businesses.


Employment background checks are becoming an increasingly common part of the hiring process. They offer several benefits to employers, such as improved hiring decision making and risk mitigation. However, there are also downsides to consider, such as the invasion of privacy and the potential for false positives. As a job applicant, it is essential to understand what employment background checks entail and how they may affect your chances of getting the job. By understanding these checks, you can ensure that you present yourself as a trustworthy and reliable candidate.

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