What Employers Can Ask When Checking Your Background

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What can employers ask about you when they check your background prior to offering you a job, or as a condition of employment? You may be surprised at how much information they can learn about you.

What a prospective employer can ask depends on the laws in your state - there are no federal guidelines limiting the questions employers can ask. That doesn't mean they will get an answer. Just because a question is asked it doesn't mean that your former employer has to answer it.

Many companies limit what they will disclose about former employees. Other organizations may not release information due to privacy issues. However, there is information that is publicly available that can also be checked.

Why do employers want to know so much about you? Employers are more cautious than ever when bringing in new staff and often conduct pre-employment background checks to make sure there are no surprises waiting after they make a hire. It's much easier not to hire someone than it is to have to terminate them if a problem arises after they have been hired.

How much information is checked depends on the employer's hiring policy and the type of job for which you're being considered. Some companies don't check at all, others scrutinize applicants very carefully.

What Employers Can Ask When Checking Your Background

What will a prospective employer want to know about you? In some cases, companies will simply verify basic information.

In others, the company will ask for more information, which your previous employer and other sources or may, or may not, disclose.

Here are some of the issues that employers might inquire about when checking on your background:

  • Dates of employment
  • Educational degrees and dates
  • Job Title
  • Job Description
  • Whether the employee was terminated for cause
  • Why the employee left the job
  • Whether there any issues with absenteeism or tardiness
  • If the employee is eligible for rehire
  • Salary (many employers will not share this information)
  • Performance issues and problems (most employers will decline to share this information for fear of lawsuits for defamation)
  • Legal or ethical transgressions (some employers will not share this information)
  • Credit history (depending on the job)
  • Criminal history (depending on the job)
  • Motor vehicle records (depending on the job)

Laws Regulating Employer Disclosures

Even though there are no federal laws prohibiting employer disclosures, some states have enacted limitations on what employers can say about you. Check with your employers regarding their policies regarding disclosures about your background.

Third Party Background Checks

In addition, when employers conduct a check of your background (credit, criminal, past employer) using a third party, the background check is covered by The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

Read More: Employment Background Checks