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What is Included in a Background Check for Employment?

Posted by Ryan Howard on Thu, Jun 01, 2017

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When employers are in need of a background check on an applicant, there are a lot of questions that need answers. Will the background information be accurate? Will it be easy to read and understand? How much will it cost? When will it get here? On the VeriFirst blog and through out the screening process, we do our best to let clients know what they can expect and when they can expect it.

See what background check looks like, including common search criteria, turnaround times, and how the information is displayed.

How to read a background check report:

One of the first questions a hiring manager may have is what to expect to see when they receive a background check. Every screening company/Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA) has their own way of doing things so the reports could look different. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) does require agencies to adhere to certain standards so reading a report should be fairly straightforward. 

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What is Included in a Background Check for Employment? 

Depending on the type of screens requested, the background check will list a variety of information.  The most common search criteria requested for pre-employment background checks are:

  • Identity Verification / Social Security Number Trace
  • Criminal History Data (records pulled from County, State, and Federal courts)
  • Sex Offender Information
  • Education Verification
  • Employment Verification 
  • Pre-Employment Drug Test

Free Background Check Report Sample

What can I expect to see on a background check report?

Again, if the consumer reporting agency is adhering to rules set by the FCRA, you can expect to see the following:

  • Unique Report Identification Number
  • Report Status (Pending, Canceled, Complete, etc)
  • Time Stamp of Date Requested
  • Time Stamp of Date Completed
  • Consumer Information 
  • Identity Verification / Social Security Number Trace 
  • Consumer Report Data
    • Criminal Check
    • Credit Check
    • Driver License Verification
    • Professional Reference Check
    • Employment and Education Verification
    • Additional Screens (as deemed necessary) 
  • Contact Information for Consumer Reporting Agency


Is it safe to assume the background check is accurate?

Accuracy begins during the hiring process. Has the hiring manager obtained complete and accurate information on the applicant? Are there any other names the applicant may have used in the past? Is the applicant's gender identified on the request? If there are any identifiers that may offer clues about the applicant, this information will help narrow down the possibility of a mismatch. 

The screening company may also offer accuracy checks beyond the computer searches. Although reviewing the information may be more laborious for the CRA, it may require a closer look to ensure the records to actually belong to the applicant in question.

Free: Online Applicant Consent Portal

When can I expect to receive the background check and how much will it cost?

The most frequently, and typically most important, questions asked about screening employees relate to time and cost. Depending on the type of background checks requested and the accuracy of the data entry during the hiring process, a hiring manager can expect to receive their background checks from 1 - 3 days. Identity verification, credit history, drivers license records, and some criminal searches can be obtained instantly. When the CRA has to gather information from courthouses, verify education, employment and professional licensing, the background check could be delayed by 1 day. A statewide criminal search or drug screening takes longer, typically 3 - 5 days. 

Costs of a background check can also vary, depending on the types of screens requested and the access fees that are charged by certain jurisdictions. For more detailed information, click below to read our Cost of a Background Check post.

Cost of a Background Check:  How Much Should You Pay?

At VeriFirst, we work with you to determine which background checks are the most cost and time efficient for your employment needs. We also let you know what you can expect time and cost-wise so there are no surprises. Download a free sample report or contact us if you have more questions on what to expect when requesting a background check.

Topics: Employment Background Screening