background check interview questions

A security clearance interview helps employers determine whether your experience, training and education match the jobs requirements and whether youre eligible for special security clearance. These types of interviews typically occur for high-level government positions or law enforcement jobs that require extensive background checks and security clearance to access restricted information or areas. Understanding different questions you might encounter can help you better prepare for your new position and achieve success in your interview.

12 Important Background Checks Questions Hirers Must Ask
  • What was the start and end date of employment for the candidate? …
  • What was his/her start and end salary? …
  • What was his/her job responsibility? …
  • Is the candidate a team player or does he/she work better alone? …
  • What was the candidate’s attendance record?

What Actually Shows Up In An Employment Verification Check

2. Contact Courts to Rectify Any Inaccurate Information

If you run a criminal background check on yourself, and see criminal history on your record that you didn’t expect to see, then you next step is to correct the issue.

Say your background check says you were convicted of assault, but you’ve never even been arrested. If this is the case, you need to get on the phone to the courthouse where the record in question was pulled. Politely explain the situation and inform the court that the information in your record is incorrect.

In some cases, you will be able to get the inaccuracies corrected with a simple phone call, written request, or in-person appearances. Other times, you might have to actually file a petition with the court. Either way, it’s a hassle, but it’s worth it to make sure your record actually reflects the life of innocence you’ve led.

If you have a criminal conviction on your record that could cost you a job, but it actually is correct, you might consider criminal record expungement.

Different states and counties have different laws pertaining to expungement, while your eligibility to have a crime removed from your record will depend on a number of factors—including the severity of the crime, the time elapsed since the conviction, and whether or not you have been charged with any other crimes.

You will also likely need legal representation to appeal for expungement, and the process will be complicated. However, if you can make a valid claim for expunging your criminal record, it’s worth jumping through the hoops and paying for the lawyer: having a clean record will automatically make you a more competitive applicant for most jobs.

Be prepared to discuss any involvement with the justice system. Most interviewers only want to know about your criminal history. However, interviewers sometimes ask about civil matters, including debt collections, evictions, divorces and custody cases. For criminal history, your interviewer will want to know your charges and whether you were convicted. He may also ask about your sentence and rehabilitation since the conviction. The agency will conduct extensive criminal background investigations, so it is best to provide accurate information.

Your past can determine your future when youre the subject of a background investigation. Many employers utilize background checks when considering candidate applications. They are also required when becoming an attorney, and the federal government conducts investigations when deciding whether to grant security clearances. Most background checks include an interview with the investigator. In preparing for the process, its useful to know what types of questions to expect.

Though general background checks do not involve your acquaintances, security clearance interviewers will ask about your family members and close friends. The interviewer will ask for names and contact information for these individuals. Depending on the level of government clearance sought, the hiring agency may conduct a limited investigation into the background of your spouse and other family members.

Health is a consideration in some background investigations. If you are applying for a position where certain physical abilities are required, the interviewer may ask questions about your health history. You will be asked to disclose any illegal drug usage or involvement in drug rehabilitation programs. Your interviewer may also request information about your general consumption of alcohol. Security clearance investigations include your mental health. Though the U.S. Office of Personnel Management asserts that mental illness alone cannot be used to deny a security clearance, you will likely be asked about any treatment for psychiatric issues. Your interviewer will request names of any doctors who have treated you, as well as any inpatient care you have received.

Employers will likely address your education and employment history in a background investigation. Your interviewer will collect information about every school you have attended. Expect that your answers will be checked with school officials to ensure you reported accurate credentials. You will also provide information about your employment history, including a business name, a contact person and contact information for every job you have ever held. Your interviewer will want to discuss your work duties and details about your separation from each position. If you have ever been fired, be prepared to discuss the reasons.

Security clearance interview sample questions and answers

Preparing for a security clearance interview can help you secure a job, and one way to prepare is reviewing sample questions and answers regarding hypothetical situations. Here are some examples of potential questions with sample answers to consider:


How do I prepare for a background check interview?

How to prepare for a background check
  1. Clean up your social media profiles and check your privacy settings. …
  2. Keep good records of your academic history and past employment. …
  3. Get copies of your records. …
  4. Be honest. …
  5. Let your professional references know they may be contacted.

What can I expect from a background check interview?

Through a background check, employers can request to see any of the following:
  • Work history.
  • Educational credentials.
  • Credit history.
  • Motor vehicle reports.
  • Criminal record.
  • Medical history.
  • Social media use.
  • Drug screenings.

What questions do they ask on a background check?

What Employers Want to Know
  • Dates of employment.
  • Educational degrees and dates.
  • Job title.
  • Job description.
  • Why the employee left the job.
  • Whether the employee was terminated for cause.
  • Whether there were any issues with the employee regarding absenteeism or tardiness.
  • Whether the employee is eligible for rehire.

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