Background checks for applicants are becoming a standard practice in human resources departments for nearly all industries. Although some are fairly minimal, jobs in industries such as government or finance perform more extensive background checks. These are known as a 10-year background check.
Information such as criminal history could significantly affect the reputation of the company and the safety of the company's employees and assets.
Background checks (BC) are an employer's insurance for getting the full story on applicants before hiring. Some employers request consent for a BC before interviewing; some request it before making a firm offer of employment. The human resources department usually seeks consent for the process, which can take from a few days to a few weeks depending on the number of components. Results are analyzed by HR, and a general recommendation is made to the hiring manager whether or not to proceed.
There are variations to the requirements an employer has. However, most will request the following: contact information, residences, jobs held, education, family members, professional and personal references, volunteer activities, criminal history, civil litigation, financial information (credit rating, bankruptcy) and drug use.
Satisfactory results can vary by employer. Some items are managed with no tolerance (criminal history and drug use), but some items are managed case by case with opportunities for explanation.
An applicant should know what is in his background. There have been many cases in which applicants aren't aware they have been victims of identity theft until a background check is performed. It's a good idea to monitor your credit and criminal records on a regular basis (see Resources). You can also perform your own background check to see what comes up (see Resources).