What In My Background Check Would Keep Me From Getting Hired?

by Colleen Collins; Updated September 26, 2017
If you have questions about what comprises a background check, ask the employer upfront

It can be daunting conducting a job search. You want to dress appropriately, answer questions authoritatively and present a polished resume. You can gauge your effectiveness in those areas, but the background check is like a black hole. Will the prospective employer find information that hurts your chances of being hired? Try not to worry. Background checks are not full-scale investigations but basically a verification of information you provide. The key is to be honest.

Felony Convictions

Although states have varying regulations on the types of criminal records permissible in background checks, many states allow felony convictions from the previous seven years. If, for example, an applicant has a felony conviction for embezzlement, an employer probably wouldn't want to hire that person to be a bookkeeper. However, as long as the candidate is reasonably well-suited for the position, an employer does not automatically disqualify the person due to a criminal record.

Falsified Education

Employers typically conduct education verification for professional positions. According to "Sleuthing 101: Background Checks and the Law," education is one of the areas that job candidates falsify most often on applications. Education verification includes confirming the schools attended, dates of attendance, fields of study and degrees earned. If an employer learns an applicant made false claims or that the applicant purchased the degree from a diploma mill, those are reasons to deny employment.

Criminal History in Driving Records

Especially for positions where driving a vehicle is part of the job, employers check applicants' driving history records. These records show more than the applicant's name, date of birth and any accidents and tickets; they also can reveal driving under the influence incidences, possession of drugs, outstanding warrants and failures to appear in court. If an applicant fails to reveal such criminal history, and it's learned through checking the driver's records, an employer might decline employment.

Negative References

Some past employers might not provide references due to company policies. Other companies might have strict procedures regarding references, limiting the information to former employees' names, dates of employment and job titles. Some companies, however, allow employers to discuss past employees' job performances, skills and other information. If a potential employer receives negative feedback about an applicant or learns a former employer grossly exaggerated the applicant's qualifications or character, those might be reasons to deny employment.


  • "Sleuthing 101: Background Checks and the Law"; Barry Nadell; 2005
  • "The Safe Hiring Manual"; Lester S. Rosen; 2007

About the Author

In 1997 Harlequin published Colleen Collins' first novel, followed by many more by Harlequin and Dorchester. Her articles and writing have appeared in "P.I. Magazine," "Pursuit Magazine" and "Cosmopolitan." She earned a B.A. in theater arts from University of California, Santa Barbara and is an active member of Mystery Writers of America.

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