Background Checks: What you need to know as Employees

Background Checks: What you need to know as Employees
Jobstreet content teamupdated on 15 December, 2023

Before buying something costly, we often read pages of reviews first to ensure we’re getting our money’s worth. Background checks for employers work in the same way. They ensure they're employing the right person before investing in you. A background check usually takes place after your interview. It verifies your credibility and makes sure you're a good fit for the workplace. 

Whether you’re preparing for the job hunting process or have just completed an interview, this article aims to help you understand and prepare for an employment background check: 

What is a background check? 

Employee background check in progress

Employers conduct background checks during the hiring process to learn more about you. It helps them gauge your character and checks if you're the right fit for the role and the company. This pre-employment background check verifies your: 

  • identity 
  • residential address 
  • educational background 
  • employment history 
  • criminal record 

You may also need to provide other personal information during this process, depending on the nature of the job. This information helps the employer to:  

  • confirm the accuracy of your documents 
  • recognize any conflicts that may arise 
  • make fair and informed hiring decisions 

Types of background checks 

Pre-employment background checks can differ depending on the duties and responsibilities of the job you’re applying for. It could involve one or several of the following: 

Identity verification 

This background check ensures that you are who you say you are. Employers use the personal information you provide to verify your identity. Details can include your full name, date of birth, contact number, and driver's license number. 

Education verification  

The company may also want to verify your educational background. For example, they might wish to confirm the education details you mentioned in your resumé by contacting your school. They may ask for a copy of your record or confirmation of your diploma and accreditations. 

Employment verification 

This type of background check for employers verifies your past employment. The hiring manager contacts your referees to learn about your previous performance and track record. They might also reach out to past employers listed in your resumé. They may enquire about: 

  • how long you worked for them 
  • your salary 
  • your performance 
  • your reasons for resigning 

Criminal record  

Criminal record checks assess the risks of employing you based on your criminal history. To do this, an employer may ask you to provide a clearance document from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). The NBI has a database of past and current criminal cases in the Philippines, so having an NBI clearance confirms that you have no pending criminal cases at the time of the request. 

Address verification 

Employers verify where you live by checking your permanent and temporary addresses. This verification aligns with the criminal record check. Knowing where you live can help the employer uncover any unknown background information.  

Can a background check affect employment? 

Yes, a background check can affect your prospects of getting a job. This is because it usually reveals more personal details than you initially offer to an employer. They can also use this information to assess your suitability for the role. Based on this, employers may reject applications from job seekers who fail their employee background checks. Common rejections include the following: 

Inconsistencies and false information on a resumé 

You risk failing background checks if employers find incorrect information on your resumé. This can include issues with your employment history, education, or qualifications. Inaccurate information related to these issues may come across as dishonesty. Should they notice this, employers may contact you about any inconsistencies and confirm whether they're clerical mistakes.  

Unsatisfactory employment history 

An employer could be wary of significant gaps in your employment history. They might ask for further information to explain these gaps. Another element in your employment history check is the duration of your previous roles. Job hopping is the act of switching jobs every six months or less. This can cause concern for employers that you're likely to resign after a short period. 

Poor reviews from professional references or previous employers can also be a reason for rejection. One poor reference may not sway an employer. But several unsatisfactory remarks from previous employers can. 

Pending criminal cases or past criminal records 

Not all jobs need a clean criminal background check. Some employers may accept job seekers with criminal records. Roles with vulnerable people or having safety, security, or financial risks may need employees with no criminal history. This rule can apply to:  

  • teachers 
  • security guards 
  • bank officers 
  • caregivers 
  • school bus drivers 

It's important to inform the employer of your background during your interview. This way, you can explain the circumstances. 

Compromising social media activity 

Employers may also do a background check online. With Filipinos being 77% more engaging online than in real life, your social media account can be a pool of information for employers to check. Avoid offensive content, previous work complaints, or posts during working hours. Check your online social media accounts and remove all the things that shouldn't be on your public social media. This can help reinforce your professional image. 

Other reasons that a background check can affect employment include:  

  • poor credit report 
  • poor financial records 
  • failed drug screening 
  • poor driving records 

How much these records might affect a job application depends on the role. For example, if the role involves handling finances, a poor credit history may not help you get the job. A failed drug or alcohol test may not help if the job position involves operating heavy machinery. A poor driving record may hinder you from becoming a bus driver. 

Legal requirements for background checks 

The Labor Code of the Philippines encourages employee background checks. In fact, the government considers this best practice. This is especially so for jobs in the health care, finance, and security industries.  

However, employers must follow the Data Privacy Act 2012, which protects personal information. This is why employers should secure your written consent before conducting a background check. Consent documents should include: 

  • the type of data the employer wants to collect 
  • who will collect your data 
  • how the employer or third-party screening company will collect your data 
  • how the company will use the data it collects 
  • how long the company will store your data 

Failure to get the job seeker or employee’s consent before performing a background check can put the employer at risk. A complaint from the National Privacy Commission can be made. 

What employers can ask about your background? 

Company checklist for employees

A background check doesn't mean the employer can access all your sensitive personal information. They can ask for documents that show the following: 

  • your full name and a recent photo 
  • your date of birth 
  • your address 
  • your educational degrees and other related information 
  • your NBI clearance form 
  • your government-issued identity documents 
  • your previous employer's name and contact information 
  • your certificates showing work experience 
  • your letters of recommendation 

However, the law prohibits employers from discriminating against you because of the following: 

  • your race or ethnicity 
  • your marital status 
  • your religion 
  • your political affiliations 
  • your health records 
  • your sexual preferences 

How long does a background check take? 

Identity verification usually takes a few hours. A more detailed background check might take a week. It may take longer if the employer is: 

  • waiting for different government agencies 
  • performing a manual check for specific records 
  • unable to reach your previous employer or references 

Employers may contact you in the middle of this background check if they need you to explain any inconsistencies. Once you pass the background check, employers may contact you about your application or recommend the next steps of the hiring process. This process ensures that their hiring decisions are fair and sound. 

How to prepare for a background check 

Here are some tips to help you prepare for a background report: 

  • Review your digital footprint. Remove posts or engagements you prefer an employer not to see. Consider updating your account or swapping your photo with a professional one. 
  • Be honest throughout the job application process. Don't hide details that may arise during the background check. Instead, discuss them with the employer and explain them. 
  • Double-check your documents. Review your documents and make sure they contain accurate information. 
  • Review possible questions. Background checks are usually similar for most job seekers. Review the important questions hirers ask during a pre-employment background check
  • Contact and prepare referees. Inform the people providing your references about your application. They can then prepare to vouch for your character and work ethic. 

If you're turned down for a job or promotion after a background check 

Ask the employer why your background check failed if they haven't provided the reason. Then, you can check for errors such as: 

  • mistaken identity 
  • incorrect criminal records 
  • past information that you may need to update 

You can exercise your rights if you suspect the employer discriminated against you. For example, you might consider filing a complaint with the National Privacy Commission once you’ve confirmed there’s been a form of discrimination. 

Third-party screening companies 

Third-party screening services help employers hire suitable people for vacant roles. They can conduct different types of background checks for the employer. A third-party background check company is used when:  

  • employers are hiring employees for many roles 
  • the employer does not have the resources to conduct background checks themselves 


A background check is a necessary pre-employment process that helps verify your information. It checks your identity, qualifications, and fit for a job. We hope this article equips you with the necessary steps to prepare you for a pre-employment background check. Remember to review your public social media accounts, ensure your personal documents are up-to-date, and inform your professional referees about your application. Most importantly, stay honest throughout the job application process. These all can help you prepare for your background check and get you closer to getting hired. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

  1. How long does a background check take? 
    Employers can receive your identity verification in a few hours. A more detailed background check process can take around a week. If the employer is waiting for third-party agencies and government bodies to deliver important information, it may take even longer. 
  2. Are background checks a requirement for all employees? 
    No, not all jobs require background checks. Employers usually conduct these for roles with safety and security risks. They also complete an employee background check for roles working closely with vulnerable people. 
  3. Why do employers choose to use third-party screening companies for background checks? 
    Employers use third-party screening companies to help them hire and conduct background checks on their behalf. This is especially true if the employer is hiring a high number of employees for multiple roles. 
  4. What should employers consider when selecting a third-party screening company? 
    Employers should look for a company that strictly complies with federal laws relating to background checks. The company's reputation should be positive and follow the Data Privacy Act. The third-party company should also be efficient and thorough in gathering accurate information. It’s also important to look for a company that has experience in background screening and is familiar with industry regulations. 
  5. What is the most common background check for employment? 
    Common background check processes include criminal background checks and employment verification checks. 
  6. Will background check results be communicated to job candidates? 
    ⁠As an employer, it's important to allow the job seeker to explain the results of their background check, especially if there are inconsistencies. Employers should discuss any inconsistencies before making a hiring decision. 

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