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How Do I Know If I Passed or Failed an Employer Background Check?

By Michael Klazema on 9/18/2019

“How do I know if I passed my background check?” and “How do you know if you failed an employer background check?” are among the most common questions that job seekers ask concerning background check screenings. The worry among some individuals is that they will apply for a job, consent to a background check, and then never hear from the employer again, left wondering if they missed out on a job due to a failed background check or for other reasons. 

The good news is that employers who disqualify candidates based on background check findings are legally bound to notify candidates of those decisions. Just as an employer cannot conduct a background check on you without your consent, an employer cannot use background check findings to disqualify you from employment consideration without notification. 

If you passed a background check, you will typically know it because the employer will move forward with hiring you. Most employers only conduct background checks at the end of the hiring process, often after extending a conditional offer of employment. If an employer decides to move forward with hiring, onboarding, and training you, then your background check was likely deemed acceptable. 

If you did not pass the background check, then the employer is bound by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) to notify you. Per the FCRA, there are multiple steps that employers must follow to remain compliant after running a background check on job candidates. 

If an employer is thinking about making an adverse hiring decision based on a background check, the employer must provide the candidate with a “pre-adverse action notice,” which includes a copy of the background check report and a summary of the candidate’s rights. If the employer goes through with making an adverse decision—which would typically mean disqualifying the candidate from job consideration based on background check findings—the company must go through additional steps, including: 

  • Notifying the candidate, in writing, of the decision
  • Providing the candidate with information about the company that prepared the background check report—including company name, address, and phone number
  • Including a disclaimer that the background check company did not make the adverse decision
  • Informing the candidate that he or she can obtain an additional free copy of the report at any time during the next 62 days
  • Letting the candidate know that he or she has the right to contact the background check company to dispute any inaccurate findings. 

Visit our Learning Center page on FCRA compliance to learn more. 

Thanks to the FCRA, you should always know if you have failed a background check. You can also run a background check on yourself to see what employers might see when they vet you. At backgroundchecks.com, we offer an easy and affordable solution for running background checks on yourself. Our self-check products include both criminal history and driving record searches.


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