What Is a Normal Background Check for Employment?

Companies use background checks to verify job candidates’ identities, employment history, education history, and financial information. Background checks can be used to screen for a criminal history and other past activities. Here’s a quick look at the standard background checks used by Check People and other screening services providers commonly perform. 

How Common are Background Checks?  

Employers screen candidates to protect themselves from bad hires. Nobody wants someone who may become a liability or otherwise pose a threat. Today, 96% of companies run at least one type of employment background check. Typically, this is done when you send in your job application, but it can also take place at another time – that is, whenever the employer sees fit. For instance, a company might instigate annual criminal background checks or drug testing in order to ensure workplace safety and security. 

An employer needs an applicant’s full name, address, SSN, and birthdate to run a pre-employment background screening. Most background checks include records and data going seven years back, while a number of states allow up to a decade of records to be checked.

According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) employers must follow certain regulations in order to run the checks smoothly. So the employers must get written permission from candidates and let them know how the background checks are going to be used in their employment. Candidate has full authority to decline the permission if he/she is not comfortable with the background check. 

What do Checks Include? 

In some cases, a person’s credit history, medical history, social media use, and motor vehicle reports are included in the scope of a normal background check for employment. If the company needs information about serious crimes like fraud, felony convictions, embezzlement, and violent crimes, it will often require a criminal background check. It’s often considered unreasonable to hire someone without this check. Statistics show that more than 80% of employers who screen candidates look for criminal records. These show whether the person might create an unsafe work environment by posing a threat to clients or other employees. 

If a criminal record is relevant to the job, there might be laws against hiring a felon, depending on the industry. Normally, a criminal background check includes county criminal court record searches, searches of national criminal databases, a search of state and federal records, as well as global and domestic watch lists. 


Criminal history screenings can vary from state to state. These variations include level 1 and level 2 background checks. The former is quite basic, extending only to identity and employment history. The latter considers disqualifying offenses and may include a fingerprint-based check. Some background check companies may charge extra to search county, state and federal criminal records apart from national databases, as well as check for aliases. 

What Background Checks Don’t Include 

Not everything can be included in a background check. There are certain kinds of information that cannot be used under any circumstances. This information includes various aspects like bankruptcies after 10 years, record of civil suits and judgments after 7 years, paid tax liens after 7 years etc. However, these restrictions don’t apply if the salary of the candidate is $75,000 or more. 

School and military records are also sensitive and cannot be accessed without the permission of the candidate. School records are confidential and must not be used without informing the student. Similarly, military records are highly secretive and confidential and must not be released without consent of the candidate and permission from higher authorities. 

OIG Checks

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) maintains a sanctions list to stop people convicted of a healthcare-related crime from obtaining employment in national healthcare programs. The list complies with the Social Security Act. A large number of companies will do an OIG check prior to hiring an individual. In addition, they can conduct routine checks after hiring to make sure the individual isn’t added to the list post-hire. This screening can be done by searching the candidate or employee’s name on the OIG website. You can confirm the search results with the person’s SSN. They will include their address, date of birth, and the reason they’re on the list, if that is the case. 

Medicare or Medicaid fraud, SCHIP fraud, and felony convictions for financial misconduct, theft, or other healthcare-related crimes are common reasons to be on the sanctions list. If you work in healthcare, patient neglect or abuse and controlled substance-related crimes will also land you on it. 

Universal Background Checks

Finally, anyone who wants to buy a firearm from a licensed dealer, manufacturer, or importer must undergo a universal background check. Private transactions and sales by an unlicensed seller within the state don’t require this. Fourteen states mandate universal background checks for all firearm transfers and sales at the point of sale (POS).