What Should You Do If A Candidate Fails A Background Check?
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What to do if a candidate fails a background check

What to do if a candidate fails a background check

10.09.2022 | Dan | Screening advice Back To Blog Posts

The purpose of the screening process and background checks is for employers to look into a candidate’s suitability for a role they’re recruiting for. This may involve learning about prior employment, education, qualifications, criminal record history, and checking they have been honest when filling out their CV.

Hiring a new employee is a big deal and can use up a considerable amount of your resources. So, it’s a decision employers want to ensure they get right. Carrying out the relevant background checks helps employers make a fair and balanced assessment of whether a candidate could be a decent fit for their business.

Background checks are also vital to ensure health and safety in the workplace. Carrying out criminal record checks helps you to protect your business, employees and customers.

But what should you do if a candidate happens to fail a background check? At Secure Screening Services, we are specialists in providing flexible, stringent, and affordable employment screening solutions to help you make sure you hire the right people for the right roles. So, this means we are excellently placed to advise you if you’re unsure about what to do if a candidate fails a background check. Carry on reading to learn more.

What is a failed background check?

Firstly, let’s consider what a failed background check actually is. Although we talk about a ‘failed background check’, there isn’t really such a thing. You may consider that a candidate has ‘failed’ a background check if the background check throws up some information or an issue that means you cannot employ them – but this will totally depend on the circumstances and your organisation’s recruitment policy.

Not all information uncovered is necessarily problematic. If something is highlighted during a background check, this doesn’t automatically mean you must throw an application in the bin right away. The choice whether to pass or fail a background check is up to the employer’s discretion, and if the company decides the information uncovered (or not uncovered) in the background check presents enough of a risk to fail the candidate.

On the other hand, some things can be non-negotiable – no matter the organisation. For instance, if a candidate fails a Right to Work check, you cannot employ them due to UK immigration law. We offer smooth automated Right to Work checks that greatly reduce the likelihood of human error and speeds this important part of the screening process up.

What would fail a background check?

Now you understand more about what background checks are, you may be interested to know the specific things that could result in a failed background check. 94% of businesses today perform background checks, and not all of them go smoothly and without a hitch.

Criminal history

Prior criminal conviction is one possible reason for an employer deciding not to hire a candidate, particularly if it could put others at risk in any way. The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 gives people with spent convictions and cautions the right not to disclose them when applying for most jobs, but this doesn’t apply to anyone given prison sentences of more than 4 years.

As an employer, you must ask candidates’ permission to run criminal history checks such as DBS. However, you are also within your right to refuse them employment if they don’t give you permission to carry out a DBS check.

Fraudulent documents

Fraudulent documents can be anything from immigration papers, to diplomas or university certificates. We have special equipment with the capability to carry out digital ID checks here at Secure Screening Services, so we have a reliable method of detecting fraudulent documents for employers.


Are things somehow not quite adding up when you take a look through a candidate’s application? Inconsistencies in applications, such as dates, identity documents claiming an individual to be of various different ages, and incomplete references are all examples of red flags for employers to look for.

We are a professional team adept at spotting these inconsistencies to help you verify the credentials of prospective employees in our robust pre-employment screening process. We offer a bespoke service that enables us to stand out from our competitors.

Poor credit

It used to be mainly financial companies interested in performing credit checks to ensure they weren’t hiring people with a reputation of poor financial management. However, pre-employment credit checks are more common across many industries nowadays.

On public databases, employers will only be able to see County Court Judgments (CCJs) and look at the electoral roll to confirm a candidate’s address. DBS checks may also shine a light on previous convictions related to this mismanagement of money.

What happens now?

If a candidate fails a background check we carried out during the pre-employment screening process, you may be wondering what happens now.

Once we have completed the screening process, we present all the information we have collected on a candidate into a PDF report that details the screenings and findings for you to download on a portal.

It’s then up to you to decide whether to continue with a candidate’s application in light of the information provided. How you decide to proceed will often depend on your organisation’s recruitment policy.

At Secure Screening Services, we pride ourselves on being thorough and include a checklist process that you can follow in such situations alongside consulting your own recruitment policy. Before making the decision to deny someone employment, you can start by sending them a pre-adverse action notice. This notifies them that information found on their background report may negatively affect a decision about their employment. Allow adequate time for them to respond. If you get no response and are sure about failing their background check, you can send an adverse action notice which officially denies their employment application.

How many people fail background checks?

In 2022, most employers advertise their vacancies online and accept online applications. Given that there’s such a wealth of information about the pre-conditions and requirements for applying to different roles out there on the internet these days, candidates, therefore, tend to think more carefully before putting themselves forward for jobs.

At Secure Screening Services, we find that candidates very rarely fail background checks. Our mission is to help employers screen candidates smoothly and efficiently so they can take on suitable recruits that fit neatly into their company culture and will help them excel onwards and upwards.

At Secure Screening Services, the primary focus is ensuring you are able to hire with the full knowledge and confidence that your candidates are right for the job. Are you interested in using our employment screening services? Get in touch with us today by phoning 01243 767 868, sending us a message on our website, or emailing hello@securescreeningservices.com.