bored african american woman doing homework home

You apply for a new job. You get the phone call that they want an interview. You go for your interview and it goes perfectly. They call back and offer you the position. All they need is a completed background check. You get a little nervous, but you think I haven’t done anything that bad. The company calls back and regretfully informs you, that you have failed the background check. What now?  

First, don’t panic! Sometimes a simple spelling mistake could be the cause of the fail. You have a right to see your background check. Request a copy of it, that way you can review what was found or at least schedule a follow up meeting to explain any questions they may have. Common mistakes to look for are spelling errors, listing of the wrong school or prior-employer and previous listed addresses. If you notice a mistake it is your responsibility to inform the employer and a re-investigation could be completed.

If no mistakes were completed and you truly did fail your check… still don’t panic! There could be various reasons why your background check was processed as failed for that specific company. Each company has their own set of job requirements. It all depends on the position you are applying for, that will determine what red flags are waved when your check is processed.  If you are applying for a high level security job, teaching job, job involving kids or a medical field, the search will be more in depth and will flag any criminal records involving sexual offenses, drug or alcohol abuse or financial crimes.

The best way to insure a positive outcome, knowing you could fail, is by following these next two steps.

  • Do a self-background check beforehand: If your budget allows, run a background check before your interview. You can also run a manual background check on yourself by finding information from different sources. Act as if you were the employer. Research yourself as if you were going to higher yourself and needed to know every piece of information possible. Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and your college website (for academic clubs or activities) are places that an employer will look for information. Check any records, whether criminal or not, that way if you are asked about them, you know what is being referenced. This will allow you to see the kinds of things that may arise during the interview process. It also gives you time to prepare answers so that you are not be blind-sided by personal questions. Be aware that under the Equal Opportunity Employer Act, specific personal information acquired by an employer prior to your interview is illegal to discuss.

  • Bring it up to the employer first: If you knowingly have a criminal history or record that could affect you being hired, write it all down. Come to the interview with printed out details of the court’s records along with any other necessary information required. If you bring it up first, it looks a lot better then the employer seeing it during the screening process. It also shows that you are honest and willing to be transparent about your past. Let them know everything they’re going to see prior to completing the search. It is better to be honest and upfront with any information that could come back to bite you or your employer in the rear-end. The worst conversation you could walk into was “why didn’t you tell us this from the beginning?”

No one ever wants to walk into or out of an interview feeling defeated. Give yourself the best opportunity to be hired by being prepared! For any tips on how to better prepare for background check results please comment below.


By: Christa Vandenburgh