How to Pass Background Checks: 8 Serious Red Flags to Avoid

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As the world tilts further towards a completely digital environment, businesses are beginning to integrate digital-based processes such as a detailed background check into their working model.

More companies have adopted Work From Home cultures for employees and have extended this model to hiring new staff. For this reason, carrying out proper background checks have become increasingly important. Since conducting interviews and hiring can be done virtually, stricter guidelines are being used for background checks. 

What is the Purpose of a Background Check?

Employers may want to verify your employment history as part of an employee background check to ensure that you have the professional background and relevant work experience required for the position.

When an applicant claims to have years of experience, even though, in fact, they don’t, or when a candidate misrepresents their previous job roles, employers get highly concerned about the candidate’s integrity.

For companies, irregularities of this kind suggest that an applicant is being purposefully dishonest. The only way to prevent against any future concerns that may arise, is by conducting an employee background check.

READ: The Beginner’s Guide to Background Check

How can I pass Background Checks?

Depending on the job description and company policy, background checks are usually done after the candidate has been offered an employment.

However, it is advisable to ensure you provide accurate details even as you send in your application letter to the employer.

If you’re not sure what causes a red flag on a background check, here’s a list of the major reasons why you could fail one. 

1. Inconsistent Academic Profile

It’s not uncommon for people who are having difficulty finding work to feel the need to embellish their résumé.

If a job applicant’s claim of higher education does not match reality, an education verification background check might reveal this.

A disparity in education or certification may need to be discussed if the candidate did not attend a certain college or did not acquire a degree or certificate as stated.

2. Incorrect Work History

It’s not always the case that a former employer is prohibited from disclosing personal information about you. In states where your employer is located, rules governing what may and can’t be disclosed may differ.

Whatever state you’re a resident of, you may still contact past employers and get copies of your employment records. It’s a great approach to avoid any unpleasant inquiries that may come up if the employer decides to do a professional background check on you.

3. Irregular Driving Record

Be prepared to explain any abnormalities if your prospective employer asks to see your driving license. They are less likely to catch you off guard if you are prepared to anticipate their queries.

Minor infractions on your driving record might be due to a totally valid reason. It’s important to be able to explain why it’s there in the first place

4. Drug Tests

Drug abuse by employees can be a big liability; someone who fails a pre-employment drug test and is found to have used an illegal substance may be excluded from the pool of candidates.

And if you’re taking prescription drugs that are legal in certain places but not in others, make sure you have prescription documents to explain them.

Believe it or not, honesty is pretty essential if you’re looking to avoid red flags and pass background checks.

READ: 10 Common Job Interview Mistakes Recruiters Dislike

5. Employee Research

While preparing your application letter for the job, it is recommended that job candidates do extensive research on the company in order to have an idea of the company structure.

Because while certain companies might overlook certain lapses in your background information, some others might disqualify you for mistakes as little as date inconsistency. 

6. Be 100% Transparent

There’s nothing wrong with discussing a negative aspect of your past with your prospective employer rather than waiting for them to learn about it. Any mitigating circumstances may be explained by you, if you are the one to bring it to their attention.

This might make all the difference in how people see you.

7. Multiple Short Term Jobs

Although a CV with a lot of relevant experience is impressive, if those jobs had relatively short durations, it may diminish your chances of getting recruited. While a larger pay package is a reasonable reason to quit professions, many employers may view it as a lack of long-term commitment to company goals.

To prevent this problem and pass background checks, prioritize relevant employment with longer periods of experience on your CV over any short-term ones.

8. Avoid Bad Exits

When employees find a new job and decide to depart, their attitude toward work and other employees often changes. While it is natural to take your foot off the gas, it is critical not to do so in a way that jeopardizes the company’s objectives.

Exiting a company on the wrong note might taint the good work you’ve done and result in a terrible reference. While a potential employer may overlook a negative statement from a past employer, if your previous employers only have great things to say about you, you’ll have a better chance of getting hired.

Major Pointers

  • To establish that you have the professional background and relevant work experience necessary for the position, employers may verify your employment history as part of the employee background check.
  • When an applicant claims to have years of experience when in fact they don’t, or when a candidate misrepresents their former titles, achievements, or responsibilities, employers get highly concerned about the candidate’s integrity
  • To ultimately avoid red flags and pass any background check, contact the HR department and ask for more clarification on the process.


Lastly, prior to applying for a job, it’s always a good idea to find out about any background checks that a prospective employer could do.

Enquire with the human resources department about what documents you need to prepare and what information you need to give for the screening process before applying.

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