Do Background Checks for Employment Include the Reasons You Were Fired or Denied Unemployment?

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Pre-employment background checks are part of the hiring and screening process. Employers use them to verify information on a resume and application, and to screen out applicants with past work histories or criminal records that would eliminate them from consideration. Applicants may be concerned that a prospective employer will learn the termination details from a background check and disqualify them. With the variety of ways employers have to gather background information, it is possible for them to determine the reasons why a past employer fired an applicant. It is less easy for a background check to reveal if the applicant was denied unemployment.

Pre-Employment Interview Questions

  • A skilled interviewer may be able to determine whether a past employer fired an applicant and the reasons for the termination. An applicant who gives a vague answer when asked why she left her last job, or appears nervous and avoids eye contact may be hiding the fact she was fired. Though not a standard background check, an interview is the simplest and most direct way to get that information. An interviewer could also ask if the applicant is currently receiving unemployment. A "yes" may mean, even if the applicant was fired, that the situation was not serious. An applicant opens herself up to questioning when she accepts an interview and should be able to explain the circumstances of past terminations.

Criminal Background Checks

  • Prospective employees must obtain authorization from applicants to run a criminal background check. Once the applicant signs and dates the application, the application may include a statement authorizing background and reference checks. While a criminal background check lists previous convictions or arrests, it may not specifically indicate why an employer fired the applicant. An individual might be denied unemployment if he was fired for cause. However, a serious violation on a background check that coincides with the last day worked may be the cause of a termination or just a coincidence.

Reference Checks

  • Employers may require applicants to provide a number of professional and personal references. Past employers may be reluctant to give any information other than date of hire, position and salary range. How a reference answers the question, "Is this person eligible for rehire," may reveal whether or not the applicant left on good terms. A "no" answer is a red flag that may indicate a serious performance problem. A hesitant, vague or evasive answer could mean the reference doesn't want to reveal negative information. He may also simply state that the company doesn't give out any termination details. Most references would not have access to unemployment compensation status, since this is handled through human resources. With any of those responses, a prospective employer may have enough reasons to take an applicant out of the running.

Social Networking Sites

  • Many companies check an applicant's social networking site for insight into the applicant’s personality, interests and activities. An applicant who was fired from a job and was denied unemployment may share the details on Facebook, Twitter or other social networking sites. Comments from friends and family on the subject could reveal a lot more than the applicant would like prospective employers to know. With so much personal information accessible on the Internet, it isn't difficult for a company to learn details about an applicant without having to ask questions or pay an investigative service.

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