What To Do When Your Candidate Fails a Background Check

In the past, background checks were typically only performed on candidates who were trying to obtain a position in a vulnerable sector such as a hospital, prison, or daycare facility. In current times,conducting abackground checkhas become standard for many positions. Once you have found the perfect candidate and you are ready to offer them a job, the only thing that is standing in the way is receiving positive results on their background check. However, what happens when your candidate fails the check?

The Importance of a Background Check

Background checks are a thorough investigation of a person and their history. All the information about the person that is available through public records gets compiled into one or multiple reports for the employer to examine.

Often when conducting background checks, speed is of the essence. You do not want to be in the situation of losing out on a great candidate because you got held up by pending search results. If you do not want to do the work of background checking yourself, there are many third-party companieslike Check People that offer quick and accurate results.

Receive Their Written Permission

Before starting the search, you must remember to obtain the written permission of the candidate. There are standard forms for this process, but it is mainly informing the candidate what is going to get checked and that the results may influence the decision regarding their employment. If the individual refuses to give their permission for the search, this is grounds for you to discard their application.

What Constitutes a Failed Check?

A background check is not an examination that a candidate can take, so how will you know whether they passed or failed?Overall, you will need to determine if results from their past will indicate a potential risk in the future.

Signs of a failed background check include but are not limited to the following:

  • A violent criminal past or sexual offenses of any kind
  • Charges of embezzlement from their previous place of employment
  • A history of bankruptcy or poor credit (for jobs involving money management)
  • Faking credentials, employment experience, or degrees
  • A history of serious drug use or distribution
  • DUIs or other driving infractions (for jobs involving driving)

If any of the above situations were to turn up in a candidate’s history, this is a solid reason to deny them the desired position. You will need to act carefully at this point to avoid any legal action against your company. The steps below will outline the process you should follow.

Examine Your Policy

You will need to refer to your employment screening policy, in particular the terms relating to background check results. You must treat each candidate the same to avoid accusations of bias or discrimination.

Inform the Candidate

Now, you will need to inform the candidate that something in their background check has caused you to rescind the job offer. You will need to provide them with the report in question, a written document detailing pre-adverse action, and a copy of their rights under the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act).


The candidate will then have seven days in which they can dispute the report. There is always the possibility that there was a mix-up between them and someone else with the same name. During this time, you cannot fully withdraw their offer of employment or hire someone else to fill the role.

Make a Final Decision

After the allotted time, you are free to withdraw their offer of employment. In this case, you will give the candidate a written adverse action notice, which explains the details of the situation.

Even if the background report was accurate, the candidate might want to offer up an explanation for the events in their past. Depending on the situation, you may be able to overlook minor infractions or events from many years ago.

Assuming you have found a reliable, hardworking, qualified individual who committed a crime such as petty theft when they were young, you will need to weigh the pros and cons. If you can, you may decide to hire them anyway. They could end up being integral to the success of your business, and they will appreciate that you took a chance on them.

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