Even if you have nothing to hide, talking about a background check can be nerve-racking. You can always ask your potential employer for clarification on what they will be looking into or you can scour background checking FAQ pages to find detailed information on common screening procedures for specific industries.

If asking your potential employer about your background check makes you nervous, consider some other approaches to gaining more information. Here are a few interview scenarios, as well as alternative ways of approaching your questions, which may give you a better idea of what to expect and how to learn more.

The Interrogation

Scenario 1: You want to clarify what screenings your potential employer will be running, but you couldn’t think of a tactful way to do so. Suddenly, you’re asking multiple, rapid-fire questions such as:

  • What are you looking for?
  • Are you going to check social media platforms?
  • Are you looking into my credit?

If you’re asking questions too quickly to receive a response, you may not get helpful answers and your interviewer could question your efficacy under pressure.

Instead, consider which questions you want to ask about the hiring process prior to the interview. If you prepare yourself by reflecting on your questions repeatedly, you can mitigate some of the stress causes by not knowing the answer.

The Preemptive Confession

Scenario 2: You expect your background check to return an undesirable piece of information, such as an unfortunate credit score or a criminal past. You ask point-blank if such a blemish on your record will hurt your chances of being hired. A preemptive confession may stigmatize you as a poor investment for the company and could encourage your interviewer to think that you have more to hide.

Instead of being the one to ask, let your interview run its natural course. Your interviewer may ask you about a criminal background once you’ve gotten more comfortable with each other, at which point you can explain your history. This is also a good time to ask if there are any legal regulations that would make you ineligible for holding this position.

The Paranoid Inquiry

Scenario 3: You’re asked to complete a drug test, which can be stressful in that it requires a trip to a doctor’s office or clinic where you’re not sure what to expect. You react by asking your hiring manager about drug specifics, such as:

  • Do they test for marijuana?
  • Do they test for alcohol?
  • What happens if I fail?

Rather than asking these questions of your hiring manager, you can save your questions for the person administering the drug test. This person will know if any medications or vitamins you are taking will show up on the screening, and he or she can show you where and how to document that you are prescribed these drugs.

Go to the Source

Should a potential employer intend to run a background check on you before hiring, you can open discussion about the topic by asking to see the legally required applicant waiver/release form. This document should list what information you’re allowing the company to collect, and must be signed by you prior to screening. You can use this document in the interview as a reference for clarifying what tests will be run.

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