The Scoop on Employer Background Checks — What You Need to Know

interviewEvery now and then we have to cover a somewhat dry topic here at MediaJobsDaily. This post is one of them.

The government recently updated their site regarding background checks so it’s our duty as your friend to fill you in.

For starters, on the employment application or during an interview (or both), an employer may ask you about your employment history including dates, salaries and titles. They may ask you about your education, criminal record or your usage of social media.

In case you were wondering, no, it’s not okay for employers to ask you about medical information. They’re not allowed to ask you about genetic information either including your family’s medical history.

The site points out:

“However, when an employer asks about your background, it must treat you the same as anyone else, regardless of your race, national origin, color, sex, religion, disability, genetic information (including family medical history), or older age (40 or older). For example, an employer is not allowed to ask for extra background information because you are of a certain race or ethnicity.”

If the company treats you differently for a variety of reasons such as your race, national origin, religion or disability or asks you questions clearly unrelated to the job itself like your medical history, you have every right to contact the EEOC.

Companies may do their homework via credit reports and criminal background reports. Prior to starting the background check, they must ask for your written permission ahead of time. Even though you don’t have to grant your permission, technically the company may reject your candidacy.

Moreover, if the company things they’re not going to extend an offer due to something that came up in the report, it has to give you a copy of the report and a “notice of rights” that explains how to contact the company that initiated the background check (usually it’s a third party). Mistakes happen sometimes so if you see an error in your report, go ahead and ask the background reporting company to correct it and then send the revised report to your prospective employer.

If there is something negative such as a criminal record, be prepared to explain it to your potential employer. And then show how it won’t impact your ability to do the job.