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What shows up on a background check?

Most employers will run some version of a background check on potential employees before making the decision to hire them. Employers do this to ensure the candidate has the skills and experience to execute the job’s requirements satisfactorily, but also to get an idea of who it is they are hiring. It is important for organizations to make sure the any new hires do not pose a threat to their fellow employees, the organization’s customers, or the organization itself. Also, many organizations are governed by federal and state laws which require a measure of oversight and regulation that a pre-employment background screening provides.


So, what shows up on a background check?

It depends on several factors including organizational policies and procedures, federal and local legislation, and the type of position being filled. Nearly all pre-employment background checks will include identity verification, employment verification, education confirmation, reference checks, and criminal records. Common additions to these basic checks are driving records, credit history, sex offender database, professional licenses and sanctions, and drug screening.

Use the table below to see what information is likely to show up on different kinds of background checks:

Record Type Type of Background Check
Pre-Employment Criminal Records Level 2 Fingerprint FBI
Drug test X X      
Address history        
Employment history        
Traffic violations X X    
Sex offender database    
Prison record +
Felony convictions +
Misdemeanor convictions +
Pending criminal cases
Arrests that resulted in conviction
Arrests that didn’t result in conviction   * * * *
Civil judgements +
Expunged or sealed convictions   * *  
Domestic terrorist watch


✓ = Included
* = Included upon request
+ = Included unless prohibited by state regulations
X = Can be included, but not allowed to be used for FCRA-compliant hiring decisions

What is an FBI background check?

An FBI background check is normally run on applicants applying for positions with a federal agency, a local law enforcement agency, or an independent contractor who handles sensitive information for the government.

The FBI background check will include a comprehensive criminal record check against the FBI’s national database, which will include arrest and conviction history, as well as traffic violations and even parking tickets. A fingerprint check is also run against the FBI’s Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) and against the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database, as well as against sex offender and terrorist watchlist databases.


What is a Level 2 background check?

A Level 2 background screen checks criminal histories related to crimes against children, seniors, and other vulnerable people. This comprehensive and specialized type of screening can even reveal records that have been sealed by courts, including juvenile convictions.

Working with vulnerable persons, including seniors, children, and people with disabilities, requires a great deal of compassion and patience. To protect their clients, organizations in these industries must ensure their employees and volunteers are well-vetted and trustworthy. Level 2 background checks are often run on volunteers and employees at senior centers, daycares, and schools, and may also be required for those seeking to become foster parents or to adopt children.

All Screening Solutions