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What Is in a Background Check for Employment?

It isn't uncommon to believe an employment background check is a comprehensive investigation into a person's personal life. Actually, a background check for employment purposes contains one or more areas of research, as requested by the employer. For example, an employer might only request a criminal history check for a particular position, but a criminal history, education verification and driver's history check for another job.

Criminal History

Criminal histories are the primary background checks that employers request because they want to prevent potential negligent and retention lawsuits and protect their workplaces from violence, theft and other crimes. In general, criminal data permissible in background reports include convictions, whether a subject is out on his own recognizance pending trial and current outstanding warrants. Also, employers might search state sex offender registries, federal criminal cases, state and federal incarceration records and terrorist databases.

Employment History

It's not uncommon for employers to accept the job history --- company names, dates of employment, job titles --- that an applicant lists on an application. But if there are inconsistencies in the information, or there are questionable gaps of significant time between jobs, an employer might research the applicant's job history. Large periods of unemployment indicate possible incarceration, for example. An employer might also contact previous employers for information on applicants' job skills and performance.

Education Verification

Especially for professional and executive positions, employers will request education verification as part of the background check. Although employment background checks sometimes verify high school dates of attendance and graduation dates, more typically they substantiate post-secondary education, professional licenses and certifications. Research includes dates of attendance, fields of study, dates of graduation, earned degrees, any disciplinary actions and current status and expiration dates of licenses. Some colleges and universities also release grade point averages.

Driver's History

In general, employers request a driver's history if the position entails the employee driving a vehicle for company business. A driver's history includes the person's name, date of birth, status of the driver's license, tickets and accidents. It might also include information not in the criminal history, such as possession of drugs, driving under the influence, outstanding warrants and failures to appear in court. Some trucking and transportation agencies also provide information about driving accidents.



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