how far do job background checks go

how far do job background checks go

How Far Do Job Background Checks Go?

Job background checks can be an intimidating prospect for many job seekers, as employers may dig deep into their pasts to find potentially damaging information. But how in-depth do these screenings actually go?

What Is Included In Background Checks?

Background checks can cover a broad range of topics, though they typically focus on three main areas:

  • Criminal Record – Employers are typically looking for felonies or other misdemeanors that could lead to a liability for the company.
  • Credit Score – This is often used by employers to determine a potential hire’s level of responsibility.
  • Employment History – Employers will look into the applicant’s past job performance, including job duties, length of employment, and references.

How Far Back Do They Look?

The answer to this question depends on the specific type of information the employer is requesting. Generally, the scope of the check is agreed upon in advance between the employer and the potential hire.

  • Criminal Record – Criminal records are usually checked back seven years, though some states limit this look-back period to five years.
  • Credit Score – Credit score checks usually go back seven years, though it’s important to note that employers are not legally allowed to make hiring decisions based solely on this information.
  • Employment History – Most employers request a complete employment history, going back as far as possible.

Will Medical Information Be Looked Into?

In most cases, employers are not allowed to ask for, or use, any medical information in their screening process – including medical records and drug tests. This falls under the Americans with Disabilities Act and other federal laws, which strictly prohibit employers from discriminating based on any type of disability.

Bottom Line

Job background checks can be an intimidating prospect, but understanding what is and isn’t included in these screenings can help make the process simpler and more transparent. Remember, employers cannot legally discriminate based on any form of disability, so any medical information should remain off-limits. Finally, make sure to ask exactly what information will be requested ahead of time, so you can be sure your past won’t be held against you.


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