How Do You Know If You Failed an Employer Background Check (Try This)

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Background Checks | May 23, 2024

How do you know if you failed an employer background check a man wearing a yellow shirt, shrugging his arms with a question mark over his head wonders while looking toward a background check document pending status on the right and an office building on the left with a man in a professional suit on the left looking down at the magnifying glass hovering over the man.

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How do you know if you failed an employer background check? Background checks are a common practice in the employment verification process, although the specifics of a background check may change with the company, the position, and the industry.

Before reviewing the workplace policy on disqualifying offenses, an applicant should try this: conduct a background investigation on yourself to see exactly what appears on a background check.

The process is simple.

Knowing what shows up on a background check and how to ensure your history meets the standards set by a potential employer (like by expunging a conviction) can help you avoid being disqualified from a position.1

The good thing is that employers are required by law to inform candidates of their decisions to dismiss them based on the results of a background check.

How Do You Know If You Failed a Background Check? Try This (How To Know If You Failed a Background Check)

Knowing how to obtain a criminal background check is the first step. An employment screening will generally include a number of public records, including driving records (if applicable to the job, like with an Uber background check), address history, credit information and sometimes social media profiles.

But, arguably, it is the free criminal background screening that will determine passing or failing.

A background check cannot be conducted without someone’s permission, and they must be informed of the results before a record can be used to eliminate them from consideration for a job.

To get a background check, there are two options:

  1. Navigate to an online background check agency that offers a 7 day free trial background check membership. Get your report and then cancel the membership.
  2. Perform the background check yourself by navigating to your state’s police department website. Search for the “background check” or “criminal records” item, and follow the steps outlined for obtaining your official criminal record. The cost of this service is usually less than $30, but each state sets its own fees.

Once that’s done, applicants can examine their record for any red flags that might disqualify them.

Many people wonder, “How do I find out if I passed my background screening?” The answer to that depends on a number of conditions, namely what the company requires. So, it’s a good idea to find out what the company’s policies are.

Why Would You Fail a Background Check? 9 Top Reasons

Employers often undertake research on applicants’ pasts before hiring them, investigating candidates’ backgrounds, including their past jobs, schooling, criminal records, and credit ratings.

The following nine red flags can lead to a failed background check after a job offer.

#1. A Resume That Is All Over the Place

A failure to pass a background check could result from irregularities in someone’s employment history. Problems can arise when an applicant’s employment history doesn’t add up or when they give misleading information about prior employers, duties, tenure, or other details. If an employer sees any of these, they may doubt a candidate’s reliability and honesty on the job. Suppose a person doesn’t want to fail a background check because of something like this. In that case, they should give a complete and honest account of all work experience and quickly address any significant gaps in employment in the cover letter.

#2. Your Resume Contains Some Incorrect Information

Background checks can be failed if they find false or misleading information6 on a candidate’s resume or other application materials. To guarantee that the information on the resume is correct, many employers do background checks to verify previous work experience, education, certifications, and skills. If asked, an applicant should only include experience, education, and certifications that accurately represent their background.

#3. Previous Convictions (Felonies and Misdemeanors)

Background checks can be difficult to pass if someone has a criminal history. A criminal background can be a deal-breaker, albeit it depends on the case’s specifics. If the person is seeking a position in a profession that deals with people’s safety or classified info, such as enforcement agencies or healthcare, the employer will likely prioritize candidates who demonstrate reliability and accountability.

A person with a minor criminal record may be asked to explain what happened and give examples showing their maturity and sense of responsibility.

#4. Employer Criticism

Managers looking to hire new staff members often do background checks by contacting candidates’ prior places of employment to inquire about their work ethic and overall performance. It’s possible that they won’t pass the background check if their references have anything unfavorable to say about their work performance.

USEEOC Screenshot with yellow arrows pointing to information about background checks and what employers need to know. Potential employers may be interested in learning whether or not they can work effectively with others, receive constructive comments, and use them to improve their work. Their references must attest to the stated skills and experience.

An applicant should provide references from former supervisors with productive working relationships.

#5. Having a Poor Driving History

Bad driving records are often a sign of carelessness and a lack of accountability. If someone is seeking a job that requires the operation of a motor vehicle, the hiring company may conduct a driver history check.

A bad driving record on the MVR report can prevent a person from getting specific jobs. Jobs that emphasize this are:

  • EMT/paramedic
  • Officer of the law
  • Controller of a significant mechanical crane
  • The driver of a large vehicle
  • Carriage operator
  • Chauffeur, bus driver, or airline pilot.

If an applicant is interested in one of these careers but worries their driving record will prevent them from being hired, they should look into other opportunities in the industry that don’t require them to drive. If a person is interested in working with law enforcement but doesn’t have a criminal justice degree, they can consider becoming a 911 operator. They might try their hand at construction jobs like carpentry or masonry work if they’re interested in becoming a crane operator.3

#6. Failing a BAC or Drug Screening

To get hired, the company may require individuals to submit a drug or alcohol test. The substance(s) tested for and the frequency(s) with which they will be required to submit to further testing after hiring are all matters that the prospective employer will determine.

Some jobs, such as those requiring the handling of heavy equipment or prescription medications, as well as those requiring the protection of others, may demand that applicants pass a drug or alcohol test. If a candidate is looking for one of these jobs, staying sober and drug-free is essential.

#7. Sub-Par Credit Record

Credit checks are standard in the financial industry and may be performed by some potential employers. A good credit score might show that a person is careful with their finances, while a bad one can show that they are not. An applicant should maintain good credit habits so that a check of their background doesn’t come up negatively.

Responsible credit practices include timely payment of all credit card bills, avoiding the accumulation of interest charges, and making only necessary withdrawals from any available credit.

#8. Engaging In Dubious Online Behavior

Legal precedents and statutes exist to safeguard the privacy of job seekers’ online profiles.

Social media monitoring is not required as part of a background check. Still, many companies use it manually or through a screening service to learn more about a candidate’s personality traits beyond what can be known in an interview.

It is common practice for prospective employers to search for inflammatory or otherwise inappropriate content.

#9. Failed Education Verification or Professional License Check

Employers analyze candidates’ certificates, training, and educational records for deception. CRAs perform education background investigations for companies. These services authenticate high school education, vocational qualifications, and undergraduate and graduate credentials.

A background check discloses candidates’ high school and college enrollment, majors, and degrees. However, these checks don’t verify licenses; only professional license verification offers background screening services.4

The temptation to embellish a CV7 grows stronger when someone has trouble finding work. Claims that do not line up with reality, such as an individual’s higher learning history, might be revealed by an education authentication background check. If the candidate claims to have attended a particular school but did not graduate with the degree or certification they say they earned, they should address this issue.

Can You Fail a Background Check for Being Fired?

How do you know if you failed an employer background check? Background checks often won’t reveal a termination from a former employer, but there are exceptions. Some businesses require applicants to disclose their last job termination circumstances, while others inquire directly about termination history. The applicant must tell the truth for the questions to be answered correctly.

Although a past termination may not necessarily exclude someone from a position, failing to disclose it after starting a new job could jeopardize their career. If anyone reveals that they were fired from a previous role, they should be prepared to discuss the specifics of their dismissal. The person has already given the information the firm needs, so whether or not the layoff pops up on a background investigation is irrelevant.

Criminal Disqualifiers for Employment Background Checks

When conducting pre-employment background investigations, CRAs access and evaluate 8 data from local, state, county, and federal archives. Convictions for either a misdemeanor or felony and any pending criminal cases may be disclosed.

Criminal Disqualifier for EmploymentJobs and Industries that Exclude
Felony MurderMost Jobs, Healthcare, Child Care, Government Positions
Conspiracy or espionage against a government.Most jobs
Staffing Agencies
Trucking and Delivery
Criminal Justice Careers
Food and Beverage Industry
Education Jobs
Government and Licensing
Private Industry
Inciting or planning a rebellion against the government.Most Jobs
Staffing Agencies
Trucking and Delivery
Criminal Justice Careers
Food and Beverage Industry
Education Jobs
Government and Licensing
Private Industry
A crime of treason or a plot to commit treason.Most Jobs
Staffing Agencies
Trucking and Delivery
Criminal Justice Careers
Food and Beverage Industry
Education Jobs
Government and Licensing
Private Industry
Terrorism under federal law, as defined in 18 U.S.C. 2332b(g), or under state law with equivalent provisions, or the conspiracy to commit either.Most Jobs
Staffing Agencies
Trucking and Delivery
Criminal Justice Careers
Food and Beverage
A breach in the safety of a public transportation system. As defined by 46 U.S.C. 70101, a transportation security incident is a security incident that results in a severe loss of life, environmental damage, disruption of transportation systems, or economic disturbance in a specific area.Most Jobs
Staffing Agencies
Trucking and Delivery
Criminal Justice Careers
Food and Beverage
The unlawful transport of dangerous materials violates Section 5124 of Title 49 of the United States Code or a similar provision of State law.Most Jobs
Staffing Agencies
Trucking and Delivery
Criminal Justice Careers
Food and Beverage Industry
Education Jobs
Government and Licensing
Private Industry
Any of the following violations involving explosives or explosive devices: illegally owning, using, selling, distributing, manufacturing, purchasing, receiving, shipping, transporting, importing, exporting, storing, or dealing with them.Most Jobs
Staffing Agencies
Trucking and Delivery
Criminal Justice Careers
Threatening to deliver, place, or detonate a bomb or other deadly object in or against a public venue, a state or government building, a public transport network, or an infrastructure facility, or intentionally transmitting misleading info knowing that to be false.Staffing Agencies
Trucking and Delivery
Criminal Justice Careers
Food and Beverage Industry
Criminal conduct in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (18 U.S.C. 1961 et seq.)Most Jobs
Staffing Agencies
Trucking and Delivery
Criminal Justice Careers

Federal Employment Background Check Disqualifiers

The federal background screening is more extensive than employment investigations. This procedure aims to confirm that the prospective employee is trustworthy and honest. Positions in the federal government, positions involving money management or finances, posts requiring a high-security clearance, and positions at the executive level generally necessitate a federal and multi-state background check.4, 5

Here are the disqualifiers:

  • Citizenship
  • Substance abuse
  • Criminal history
  • Bankruptcy
  • Dishonest information

What Happens If You Fail Employment Background Check (Failed Background Check After Job Offer)

How do you know if you failed an employer background check? At least five business days must elapse before the company can legally withdraw the job offer or replace the candidate with another applicant. Anyone should ensure the employer is not violating their rights under the FCRA9 if they were offered a job and then failed a background check afterward or even before starting work. If they are not, they may have grounds for legal action.

An unsuccessful background check doesn’t imply anyone can’t receive a job, loan, or other incredible achievements if the data is incorrect and they remedy it. So, how do you know if you failed an employer background check…run one on yourself to see what shows up and the records that may disqualify you from a specific position to find out for sure.

Frequently Asked Questions About How Do You Know If You Failed An Employer Background Check

How Do I Know If I Passed My Background Check?

The employer will notify the applicant by phone or electronic mail.

How Long Does a Pre-Employment Background Check Take?

A pre-employment background check10 can take between two to five business days to conduct, depending on the type of check and the amount of information required.

What Do Employers Look for in a Background Check?

Employment, credit, driving, criminal, car registration, court, compensation, bankruptcy, medical, references, property, drug test results, military, and sex offender information are all things a potential employer might look into.

Why Is My Background Check Taking So Long?

The organization needs a piece of data from the applicant and is waiting for a response.

If a Company Does a Background Check Are You Hired?

Even if someone passes a background check, that doesn’t necessarily mean an employer will hire them. However, if an employer conducts a background check on an individual, it likely means they are seriously considering them for the position.

Federal Employment Background Check Disqualifiers?

  • Citizenship
  • Substance abuse
  • Criminal history
  • Bankruptcy
  • Dishonest information

What Causes a Red Flag on a Background Check?

  • A poor employment history.
  • Lied on the resume, or there are inconsistencies.
  • A criminal history.
  • Received terrible references from previous employers.
  • A poor credit history.
  • Failed a drug or alcohol test.
  • A bad driving record.

How To Respond To a Pre-Adverse Action Letter?

  • Embrace humanity and your own shortcomings.
  • Tell the potential employer the journey from experience and why the history won’t hinder achieving success in the role.
  • It’s a good idea to elaborate on how to use the education and experience in the role if one is applying for a promotion or a new position.

What’s a Failed Education Verification?

Even though 25% of people exaggerate their educational achievements on applications, only around 34% of employers evaluate the academic credentials listed on applications, according to 2004 research by the Society for Human Resource Management.

Why Would You Fail a Background Check?

Criminal records, unexplained gaps in education, bad credit, a damaged driving record, fabricated work history, positive drug tests, and failed drug tests are some reasons someone cannot pass a background check.5

Can You Fail a Background Check for Being Fired?

Background checks often won’t reveal a termination from a former employer, but there are exceptions.

Should I Call To Check on My Background Check?

All calls should be made no later than two days after a question-and-answer session or background check.5

How Can I Beat a Background Check?

  • Keep in mind the importance of being prepared for these audits.
  • Check the credit report.
  • Take a look at the driving history.
  • Learn about what substances are prohibited.
  • Get in touch with past employers and request employment records from them.
  • Check the employment regulations in the area.

How Will I Know I Passed a Background Check?

Sometimes, an offer is made without any indication of whether or not the applicant has passed a background check. So make sure to run your own background check first.

What Would Cause a Background Check To Fail?

  • An undisclosed criminal background
  • Inconsistencies on your resume
  • Poor credit history
  • Poor driving history
  • Drug test failure
  • Bad references or reviews

What Causes a Red Flag on a Background Check?

Background reports find common red flags for application inconsistencies, negative comments, and previous convictions.

Is No News Good News for Background Check?

If a background check turns up nothing, that’s good news. Sadly, it’s likely that anyone will receive notifications about issues discovered in employment background checks on occasion.

What If There’s No Response After Background Check?

If the business doesn’t respond or is unavailable, the corporation might request11 that the employee send copies of their W-2 forms12 for each year of employment within two days.

How To Clear a Bad Background Check Yourself?

A person should do an Internet search to learn more about oneself. People should consider eliminating any potentially embarrassing content from their social media accounts if they discover it. Make sure the data in any criminal or judicial records are accurate. Verify that all of the information in the job record is correct.

If A Company Does a Background Check Are You Hired?

A background check does not always indicate an employer’s decision to hire an applicant.

What If There’s a Minor Discrepancy in Background Check?

If the business has not previously done so, inquire about the possibility of explaining any differences.

Can An Employer Fire You After They Hired You Because of a Background Check?

The decision to not hire or fire an applicant based on the applicant’s background checks may be legal in some cases but also criminal in others.

How Do I Know If I Passed My Background Check for Amazon?

The background check’s status can be found on the Accurate Applicant Status Portal. However, assistance is available if someone desires additional information at some point. The telephone number for Accurate is (800) 216-8024. Alternatively, anyone can contact Accurate via their website’s support form.


1Crosner, Z. (2019, August 7). How Long Does a Background Check Take? – Crosner Legal. Crosner Legal <>

2How To Handle Background Check Errors When A Job Is At Stake. (2022, June 6). Francis Mailman Soumilas, P.C. <>

3How To Know if You Failed an Employee Background Check With FAQ | (n.d.). Indeed Career Guide <>

4How Do I Know If I Passed or Failed an Employer Background Check? (n.d.). How Do I Know If I Passed or Failed an Employer Background Check? <>

5Ways to Fail a Background Check for Employment | (n.d.). Monster Career Advice <>

6USAJOBS. (n.d.). Employer Background Check. USAJOBS. <>

7U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (n.d.). Background Checks. U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission <>

8National Archives. (n.d.). Guide to Federal Records. National Archives <>

9Federal Trade Commission. (n.d.). Fair Credit Reporting Act. Protecting America’s Consumer <>

10OPM.GOV. (n.d.). Background Check. Policy, Data, Oversight <>

11Yale Law School. (n.d.). Corporation Request. Before You Apply: Understanding Government Background Checks <>

12IRS. (n.d.). W-2 Forms. About Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement <>

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