What is one thing companies look for when running applicant background checks?

To help you best appreciate what companies may seek to know about you as a job candidate, we asked recruiters and hiring managers this question for their best insights. From driving record to credit history to social media presence, there are several things companies look for when checking the backgrounds of candidates they wish to hire. 


Here are 10 things companies look for when conducting background checks on potential candidates:

  • Driving Record
  • Non-Compete Clauses or Agreements
  • Education History
  • Bankruptcy
  • Criminal Record
  • Employment History and Identification 
  • How a Candidate Quit Previous Jobs
  • Credit History
  • References
  • Social Media Presence


Driving Record

Is the job you are applying to involve you getting behind the wheel of a vehicle or operating machinery? Then more than likely, your background check will include an overview of your driving record. If you have a history of being an unsafe or careless driver, that will greatly affect your chances of attaining the job. Afterall, companies are looking to hire employees they can trust to not only get the job done, but also get the job done safely.

Brandon Brown, GRIN

Non-Compete Clauses or Agreements

Applicants may not always be aware of the seriousness of non-compete clauses or agreements they may have signed with their previous employers. Any such clause or agreement adversely impacts the chances of employment for such a candidate.

Companies rely on such agreements to prevent workers from switching to competitors in the business.

They are also drawn between companies to avoid poaching and other forms of unethical hiring. Checking on this aspect is crucial, especially if your business belongs to an industry where such agreements are commonplace.

Riley Beam, Douglas R. Beam, P.A.


Education History

One thing that may be checked during a background check is the education level of the candidate. If a job requires higher education, employers are keen to make sure that a candidate they’re interested in is qualified to fill their role. Keeping a record of your transcripts or diplomas will be helpful in this case and can make the process a bit quicker. Be sure to inform your potential employer about any relevant educational events, like transfers or changes in majors, should they ask.

Alex Chavarry, Cool Links



Though mostly done in financial or money handling jobs companies can check for bankruptcies during a background check. Having had money troubles, isn’t an immediate deal breaker however. While companies can check for bankruptcies, they can’t see the particular reason behind them, they’ll have to talk to the applicant in order to find out. The majority of employers are quite understanding of situations like chronic illness or medical issues, divorce or some other unforeseen circumstance forcing someone to file. The best way to handle talking about a bankruptcy to a potential employer is to have a clear and honest in person discussion about your circumstances.

Caleb Ulffers, Haven Athletic


Criminal Record

The most crucial thing HR reps look out for when doing background checks on people is whether or not you have a criminal record. Although that isn’t a completely off-putting factor for hiring someone, depending on how severe the crime was and what it was for can determine their overall decisions. For example, if a candidate has a record for theft and you are looking for a person to look after stock count and inventory, they may think twice about hiring them based on records.

Tracey Beveridge, Personnel Checks


Employment History and Identification 

Many companies now run background checks on job applicants as part of the hiring process. There are many reasons for this, but one of the most important is to ensure that the person is who they say they are.

Background checks can verify identity, education, and employment history. They can also uncover any criminal records or other red flags that might make someone unsuitable for the job.

In today’s business environment, background checks have become an essential part of the hiring process. Companies that fail to run them risk hiring someone who is not qualified or who may pose a risk to the company. As a result, more and more employers are including background checks as part of their standard hiring procedure.

Jim Campbell, Wizve


How a Candidate Quit Previous Jobs

Although there are diverse circumstances under which an employee quits a job, it is important that new employers are aware of any unusual episodes. From quitting without serving the required notice period to more serious allegations like fraud, the reasons could be many. Finding out these details will give a potential employer considerable insight into whether the candidate’s story matches the results of the background check. If any discrepancies are found, the HR team could get in touch with the candidate to ask for clarifications, or in case of red flags, the team can reject such an employee.

Kris Harris, Nootka Saunas


Credit History

A credit report from one of the Big 3 credit bureaus is included in most background checks. Debt and bad credit scores have become common among Americans, so this isn’t viewed as the indication of responsibility and character that it used to be. However, jobs that require you to manage money or generate financial plans will definitely factor a candidate’s credit history for consideration.

Dan Gray, Kotn Supply



A good indicator of an employee’s value, knowledge, and experience are references from former employers or organizations with which the person has cooperated. References serve as proof determining whether the information provided in the resume is accurate. But not only that. They say a lot about a candidate’s job performance and skills.

When provided during a direct conversation with a former manager or co-worker, references allow learning a lot about the candidate’s character and working style, as well as general attitude to the duties performed.

This feedback from others shows how valuable an asset the employee was to their former employer and what they can bring to your company. Verifying references during background checks undoubtedly helps you decide whether you should hire the candidate. Besides the standard information, they reveal non-obvious aspects, such as character traits and attitude to work.

Nina Paczka, Resume Now


Social Media Presence

Not having a social media presence is itself a red flag! Social media is without a doubt the most popular environment currently, such that not having your presence there is somewhat considered bizarre. A resume only gives a recruiter a basic overview of who you are professionally. On the other hand, social media is a useful tool for recruiters to find out who you are outside the professional world. But while social media is not a must have for so many reasonable reasons, it’s recommendable to at least have a LinkedIn account.

Jon Torres, Jon Torres


Terkel creates community-driven content featuring expert insights. Sign up at terkel.io to answer questions and get published.