What Causes a Failed Background Check and How to Handle It

Background checks are an essential part of the recruitment process, as employers strive to ensure that a candidate is eligible and authorized to work in a certain country. But what happens if the background check reveals unexpected information about your applicant? Can you still submit a job offer? Let's take a closer look at the common issues that can arise in a background check and the five steps that can help you make an informed decision. A recent Veremark report, dedicated to background checks and the selection of candidates for HR personnel worldwide, uncovered the most frequent discrepancies that emerged when conducting online background checks on potential employees last year. These can range from verifying academic performance, which verifies that a candidate actually graduated from the university or college they claim to have attended, to verifying “conflicts of interest”, which considers whether any existing business partnership between a candidate could be problematic.

If the background check reveals any negative information, you must explain this in a letter to the candidate. You must explain that the findings of the background check are the reasons for the rejection, the candidate's right to contest any inaccurate information, and the option to request a new copy of the background check within 60 days.

Five Steps for Handling Failed Background Checks

Step 1: Carefully review all information. Make sure you understand all of the information in the background check and consider any mitigating factors. If there is any doubt about the accuracy of the information, contact the provider for clarification.

Step 2:

Take into account any mitigating factors.

If there are any mitigating factors that could explain why the background check failed, such as a criminal offense that occurred many years ago or a negative job reference from a former direct manager, consider these carefully.

Step 3:

Make an informed decision. Once you have reviewed all of the information and considered any mitigating factors, make an informed decision about whether or not to submit a job offer.

Step 4:

Explain your decision in writing. If you decide not to submit a job offer due to the results of the background check, explain this in writing to the candidate.

Step 5:

Offer an appeal process. Give the candidate an opportunity to appeal your decision and provide them with information on how they can request a new copy of their background check within 60 days.


Background checks are an important part of the hiring process, as employers seek to verify that a candidate is qualified and entitled to work in a particular country.

However, if unexpected information is revealed during a background check, it is important to review all information carefully and consider any mitigating factors before making an informed decision about whether or not to submit a job offer.

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