How To Pass A Background Check

Passing a background check is an item of concern for many individuals who may not have had to submit background checks before or those that know they might have some points of concern listed on their background check report.

This article will help you understand what a background check is and give tips for passing a background check so that you can be informed before starting the background check process.

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What Are Background Checks?

Background checks list your criminal, civil, education, and employment history, among other information, in a simple report so that employers or other individuals can review your information and verify your identity. Background checks are typically requested when you apply for a job or an opportunity that requires specialized skills, has to do with the government or security, or interacts with vulnerable populations such as child care or healthcare work.

Whether or not you pass a background check depends on what the employer is looking for and the type of position.

In most cases, as long as you don’t have an extensive criminal history and multiple drug or driving record issues, you will pass a background check. However, if you do have a criminal history or other potential concerns on your background check, you may still be eligible for certain jobs, though this can depend on state laws and the specific company.

How To Ensure You Pass A Background Check

If you want to know what appears on your background check before applying to a job or want to ensure that you will pass, you can proceed through our steps below to stay prepared.

Verify Your Legal Records

Most background checks focus on your criminal and civil history, as companies and employers want to double-check that there are no felonies or misdemeanors on your record. If you’ve had legal issues in the past, you can check what’s on your criminal record ahead of time by requesting court records. These are all available to the public, so you will be able to receive them, but it may take some time for the information to be returned to you if you request it directly from the court.

An easier way to verify your legal records is to input your email into and utilize the search tool. It will search by your email and compile any public records related to that address, giving you an idea of any criminal or civil notes that might turn up on your official background check report.


If you have legal infractions on your record, you may want to consider if expungement is possible. Expungement is the act of sealing certain records from the public, effectively wiping them off your record. Different states have different laws about how expungement is achieved, but in most cases, you will need to stand before a judge and make your argument for expungement. Perform an internet search of specific laws in your jurisdiction or consult a legal professional to help with the expungement process.

Check Your Credit Report

While most jobs won’t check your credit report—save for professions that work directly with loans, finances, or banks—a loan officer, landlord, or credit card company might check your credit report.

To stay aware of your financial history, use a free credit report checking tool such as Credit Karma to review your credit history and see any debts, collections, or loan information that might be included in this report. It’s also a good idea to check your credit score regularly as you try to improve your credit.

Ensure Your Online Presence Is Professional

Sometimes, employers and companies will double-check social media accounts or other aspects of your online presence to determine whether or not you are a good fit for the job. While there are laws governing what employers can do with the information they collect from your social media, you can help yourself by ensuring your public social media accounts are generally professional and appropriate.

You can also take time to ensure that any pictures, comments, or videos that you don’t want potential employers or other important individuals seeing are private or deleted from your accounts.

Make Sure Your Application Is Accurate

As you apply for a job or other position that requires a background check, you will likely be asked to fill in information about yourself and your history. Make sure that you answer entirely every applicable question and that you are as truthful as possible. Any conflicts between the information you list and the information that gets returned via a background check may cause issues in the future or during an identity check.

Understand What Will Be Checked

Most states require employers to inform you which parts of your history will be checked. Review any information on background check request forms carefully and speak to the individual asking for the background check to make sure that you understand exactly which parts of your background report they are evaluating and why.

Be Prepared To Explain Potential Issues

If you know that you have issues or items on your background check that may be red flags to potential employers or other individuals, be prepared to explain these concerns. Take your time to explain the situation and allow the employer to decide whether they will consider the issue a problem. Don’t try to make an argument for yourself or approach the problem defensively, as this can give the wrong impression.

What Should I Do If I Can’t Pass A Background Check?

In instances where you know ahead of time that you can’t pass a background check, you should speak to the individual requesting your background check report. Tell them of the potential concerns they might see on your background check, and then proceed accordingly to what they say.

Many states are putting laws in place to stop discriminatory hiring based on certain aspects of background check reports. So you may have more opportunities than you think if you are transparent about what your background check will show.

Can You Stop Information From Showing Up On Your Background Check?

Once something is on your public record, you cannot stop it from showing up on your background check report. Background checks utilize all publicly available criminal and civil history, in addition to other vital information, to compile a report about you. Only information that has been expunged from your record or is outside your state’s eligible period to be included in a background check will be left off your background check report.

Understanding The Background Check Process

Background checks can cause confusion and anxiety, only made worse by not knowing if you will pass your background check. Review our article for steps and advice on how to pass a background check, and prepare yourself ahead of time with proper explanations and knowledge on your hiring rights if you believe there might be an issue of concern on your background check. Do this, and you’ll have the best chance to pass any background check effortlessly.

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