Dispelling Myths: Employment Background Checks


The words ‘employment background check’ can cause fear in many job candidates.  Many times that fear comes from misunderstandings about how background checks really disclose.   

Here are a few employment background check myths that job candidates may believe; and the facts involved.

Myth: Background checks uncover all past encounters with the law.
Fact:  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has rules in place that employers have to follow.  When the crime occurred, its severity and its relevance to the job in question are all factored.

The Federal Credit Reporting Act protects job candidates during the background check process.  Employers must follow those rules and the agency running the check must also comply with established guidelines.

States also have specific laws in place that can affect a background check.  Some information found cannot be considered when making a hiring decision.

Myth:  If something negative is found, the candidate cannot dispute the finding.
Fact:  The FCRA also allows a candidate the chance to correct or clarify incomplete or inaccurate information found during the background check process.  This means employers have to let a candidate know in writing that action may be taken as the result of a background check.  This is the process of pre-adverse action and adverse action.


Myth:  A background check is run too quickly to be accurate.
Fact:  Background checks are thorough and typically take up to three business days to complete.  The candidate’s residency and education history could add to the process.

Myth: Posts on social media can cost a candidate a job.
Fact:  It’s true that some employers might sneak a peak at Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts of their prospective employees, but it’s not always a make or break situation.  

Hiring managers know that social media screenings can uncover sensitive information about the candidate, including things that are protected by federal law: religion, race, age or disability. This means that it is in their best judgement to not look at social media accounts of prospective employees.

Myth:  Companies entirely base their decision on employment background checks.
Fact:  While an employment background check is an important tool in the hiring process, not every business will use that information in a hiring decision.  

It’s important to put the candidate in question at ease from the start.  Be up front during the application process.  The employment background check is being done to help create a more positive experience for a prospective employee.  


Kandi Chapman
President and Founder
MBI Worldwide