How Can You Prepare for a Background Check?

By Michael Klazema on 9/4/2019

It’s common to take part in some interview preparation when you are being considered for a job. Working with a friend or family member to prepare for common interview questions and applying your answers to the job role is a terrific way to get ready for the real thing. How can you prepare for background checks? This separate piece of the pre-employment screening process is one that most employers consider to be as important as the interview. 

To start, prepare yourself for the possibility. According to statistics from, 96 percent of employers now run at least one type of background check on their candidates. Whether it’s a criminal history screening, a motor vehicle records check, or verification of resume information such as education and past employment, you will almost surely need to pass a background check before you can begin a new job. 

Here’s how to prepare for different types of background checks. 

  • Criminal History: First, know your rights. Do you live in an area where ban the box policies are active and enforced? If so, you may not be required to disclose any criminal history on a job application. The law may even demand that the employer delay your background check until later in the job screening process. Second, consider running a self-check to make sure that you know what your criminal record shows. Wondering, “what’s on my background check?” offers an easy way to see your own criminal record.

  • Resume Information: When it comes to educational credentials, professional licenses, past jobs, and other resume information, be honest. Employers can verify this information with just a few phone calls. Lying about a college degree or job title will cost you more than it will gain you. On a similar note, before you list references to speak on your behalf, ask their permission.

  • Driving History: Unless the job that you are seeking involves driving a vehicle or operating a piece of machinery (such as a forklift), you probably won’t need to pass a driving history check. To prepare for a driving history check, use the self-check to make sure that you know what your motor vehicle record looks like.

  • Credit Checks: Similar to driving history checks, you won’t need to worry about credit history checks for most jobs, but positions that involve control of finances or access to sensitive financial information are likely to involve this type of check. To prepare, check your own credit. You’re entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). Look for odd or unexpected information that might indicate identity theft or other problems. If there are issues, contact the credit bureau to initiate investigative measures. 

Always know what to expect from employer drug testing strategies, and be prepared for drug testing for any position. 

These preparation strategies will help put you at ease as you head into the pre-employment screening process. Just as getting ready for an interview can loosen you up and dissolve some of the nerves around the process, preparing for background checks makes it easier to see those checks as nothing to worry about.



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