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6 Common Reasons for Failing a Background Check

PSI Team | Industry Expertise

Companies use background checks to make decisions every time they want to hire a new employee. By thoroughly researching a candidate’s history and qualifications, you ensure that your new hire is a good fit for your company in terms of credentials and experience. Most of the time, a background check is simply a routine procedure that can help you feel more secure with your hiring process. However, red flags can come up. What calls for the elimination of a candidate? Remember that every job and company is different. Something that constitutes a hard no for some positions might be acceptable for others. To make the best decisions for your team, you must understand why someone can fail a background check. You should also learn how that information applies to your company. Discover more with this rundown of common reasons for failing a background check.

Criminal History

A candidate’s criminal record is one of the most crucial sections of the background check. After all, you want your employees to be upstanding citizens on which you can rely. Screening candidates’ criminal histories helps you maintain a safe work environment for all your employees. Hiring safe candidates can also protect any customers, clients, and business partners you might have. That said, not all criminal records call for an immediate dismissal. As with any other section of the background check, don’t simply take this information at face value. Past criminal charges might be a symptom of misunderstandings or youthful mistakes. You should also consider the nature of the crime compared to the job position. For example, a reckless driving charge is less likely to be a problem for an entry-level office position, but it’s a major warning sign for delivery drivers. No matter what your final decision is, make sure you treat every candidate fairly and equally. This will help you avoid discrimination in your hiring process.

False Credentials

Putting false information on a resume or application is an all too common practice in today’s job market. Whether a candidate exaggerates their qualifications or outright lies about their experience, a background check helps employers detect discrepancies in what someone claims. You don’t want to hire someone and then discover they aren’t actually qualified for the role. This is particularly true when it comes to specific licenses or certifications, such as those necessary for healthcare roles. Furthermore, while you might forgive minor exaggerations on a resume, bolder lies can be indicative of a less than trustworthy individual.

Background checks look at both employment and education history to make sure everything is in line with the information on a candidate’s resume and application. An applicant might lie about the college they attended or the kind of degree they obtained. Alternatively, you might find false information regarding how long the individual stayed with a company or the sort of responsibilities they had in a certain role. By looking at both employment and education history, a background check verifies your candidate’s information and ensures that their experience is real.

Poor Credit History

Not every background check includes a credit check. As mentioned, traffic violations are red flags for driving jobs. Similarly, credit reviews are most relevant to jobs that require financial responsibility. If your company handles large amounts of financial data—or you’re hiring for a banking or managerial role—a credit check is a valuable part of your hiring process. Reviewing a candidate’s credit history allows employers to see how the individual handles crucial duties like monthly bills, loan payments, or credit cards. Good spending habits often indicate a reliable and responsible employee. Meanwhile, poor credit information such as past bankruptcy or large amounts of debt might be a reason not to hire someone. As with a criminal record, you should give candidates a chance to dispute or explain negative information in their credit history. You might find that there is a reasonable answer, such as complications with a divorce or mistakes made when younger. Discussing financial history with the applicant can prevent you from losing an otherwise great potential employee.

Failed Drug Test

Many companies have strict policies against drug use, and a failed drug test is one of the most common reasons for failing a background check. In addition to potentially breaking the law, employees who use drugs regularly pose a risk to themselves and their coworkers. For example, if the job requires employees to operate machinery, doing so while intoxicated can lead to disastrous accidents. Even legal substances such as alcohol or marijuana can create problems in your store, office, or other work environment. However, employers should keep in mind that prescription drugs or other variables might create a false positive on the drug test. Make sure you’re ready to dig deeper for a reliable answer if an issue arises from the test results.

Social Media Red Flags

In this day and age, most people have some sort of social media account. Many employers look at this information. A social media profile can help you get a better glimpse of a candidate’s personality and interests, which can help employers decide if someone is a good fit for their department. This portion of the background check might also reveal unacceptable behaviors or attitudes—such as discriminatory or illegal acts—that you don’t want on your team.

Poor References

Reference checks allow employers to consult with past supervisors or coworkers about an individual’s work ethic, behavior, experience, and more. Candidates will often list references that they know and trust on a more personal level, such as friends or mentors. Companies often stick to objective information when interviewing an applicant’s references, such as employment dates and responsibilities within the role. Despite this, bad references do still occur. You might hear about a potential employee’s lack of teamwork skills, poor attitude, or other negative traits. Reference checks, while sometimes invaluable, rely on the word of individuals who might have other motives behind their review. Before you turn a poor reference into a failed background check, make sure you do some digging to learn the full story.

The point of a background check is to give you peace of mind about your hiring decision. While uncovering negative information doesn’t always lead to dismissing that candidate, you still benefit from knowing these things about your potential employees. Working with professional background check companies helps you build a team that you and your company can rely on.

6 Common Reasons for Failing a Background Check