Why would a background check come back declined?

Written by sophia harrison
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Why would a background check come back declined?
Background checks can be cursory or in-depth. (Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Employers are increasingly using background checks to verify employee applicant information. A negative background check can cause an employer to rescind a job offer. There are many reasons why a background check may come back with a non-passing result, some of which may be the result of unintentional deception.

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Background Check

Training and/or hiring a new employee takes time and resources away from a company. As a result, many businesses want to make sure the candidate is worth the investment. When an applicant submits to a background check, his potential employer may check for delinquencies in his credit report, a record of civil judgments, or bad debts. Most employers also check for a criminal history, which may include financial crimes, a history of violence or substance abuse.


Many people embellish in their applications, resumes or interviews, particularly when it comes to job experience and accomplishments. According to a study of background checks conducted by Kroll, a major risk consulting company, 48 per cent of people employed in the real estate industry lied about their former employment, and 7 per cent of those in the financial industry were found to have a criminal history. In addition, 9 per cent of education employees failed drug testing, the highest rate of any industry sector.


Some candidates fail background checks because they have deliberately misrepresented themselves, as in the case of someone who lies about their level of education or the positions he held with previous employers. Applicants can also fail a background check if they have omitted important information, have gaps in employment or misstated facts. They may have misrepresented employment dates or experienced legal or financial problems such as bankruptcy. Candidates should keep in mind that an employment application is a legal document, which means that a company is legally obligated to verify the information it contains. This is why so many employers insist that you fill out an application instead of just submitting a resume. Your signature on the application is your attestation to the veracity of the information contained therein.

The Truth

Applicants who state the truth in their resume and job application can avoid the pitfalls of a failed background check. While an employer will most likely ask for an explanation if an interview is offered, he may also look past potentially negative information if an applicant can demonstrate growth and an increased sense of responsibility. Many small firms and temp agencies do not preform in-depth background checks, however, as more employers do, candidates may be forced to be more truthful in order to gain employment.

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