In 2005, 96% of employers required prospective employees to undergo background checks before they were offered a job. With your potential career at stake, it's important to know the questions a background check is likely to cover.
Permission and Relevance
The information you are asked for in a background check should be relevant to the position for which you are applying; for example, an employer may check on your driving record if you are applying to be a driver but not if you are applying to work in a bank. In addition, the employer must ask you for your consent to conduct a background check, and you must give your permission before a check may be conducted.
The most important part of the background check is usually the section on your criminal background. Some jobs will not blacklist you because you have a criminal record but will if you lied about it when you applied for a job.
Questions in the background check may focus just on felonies or misdemeanors, or you may be required to list both kinds of crimes if you were convicted. Pay particular attention to the crimes the employer wants to know about. If you are asked about felonies only, you do not have to list any misdemeanors on your record. If you are asked to list only crimes for which you were convicted in the last five years, you do not have to list a crime for which you were convicted seven years ago. The types of crimes and how many years back they can ask you about are determined by the laws in your state. If you are applying for a job where you will be around children, the employer may also request your sex-offender status.
Educational and Job History
Your educational and job history will also more than likely be checked. Many applicants lie on their resumes about their educational degrees and qualifications, so employers often want to verify any degrees you claim that you hold and the schools where you say you obtained them. They may also want to verify your job history.
You may also be asked about your credit. An employer may want to verify that your social security number is valid and assigned to you and may also want to check your credit, especially if you will be handling money.
If your job requires driving, you may be asked about traffic tickets you have had and/or if your license has ever been suspended.
If for any reason you are denied a job based on a background check, the employer is mandated by law to provide you with a copy of your background check and to tell you why you were refused employment.