What You Should Do If a Prospective Employee Fails a Background Check After a Job Offer

Sometimes it takes months of rifling through resumes and conducting countless interviews to find the perfect candidate for a position. When you finally find ‘the one,” you are hoping that they are as interested in the job as you are in them as a future employee. 

Unfortunately, a hiring situation can arise even when the prospective employee is interested in the job. Qualification verifications are an important part of the interview process. During that part of the interview, the background check might come back with information that causes the candidate to fail. 

If an employee failed a background investigation after accepting a job offer, it is up to the employer to adhere to a process that will ensure it is handled correctly.

What to Do After a Candidate Fails a Background Check

If you really like the candidate, it will likely come as a disappointment if they don’t pass the background check. Before you turn the candidate away completely, verify that the background records match the candidate. It is possible that the information you received is inaccurate due to data entry or database issues. 

You can work with the screening company to make sure that the information is correct. If you find that the background check does match the candidate, then there are a few steps to take before you make a decision on whether or not to go through with the hiring process. 


Review the Company Policy

Having a background check policy in place can help with consistent, quality hiring. The policy will provide guidance as to how to hire for certain jobs within the company. A decision matrix can also be helpful in making a decision about the next steps with any candidate. 

These two tools should be reviewed regularly to ensure that they make sense for your organization’s hiring goals. If a candidate fails a background check, these tools are good points of reference to help you move forward


Talk to the Candidate

HR managers know that the information in a screening process is not always correct. The job candidate should be allowed to explain the results of the background check. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires the candidate receive a Pre-Adverse Action notice which informs them that the job offer can be retracted based on the results of the background report. The candidate should also be provided with a copy of the report and a “Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Report Act.” The applicant should be given a period of time (we suggest a week) to dispute what is stated in the report. 


Make a Decision

Once the policy has been reviewed and the candidate has been given adequate time to explain, a decision has to be made as to whether to move forward with hiring the candidate.

Adverse Action

If the candidate cannot explain or chooses not to dispute the claim, then an Adverse Action notice must be sent. This written notice states that the job offer has been retracted because of the failed background check, which was not disputed by the candidate. The potential hire must receive a copy of the Adverse Action notice. A rescind offer letter sample can offer guidance and should include the following:


  • Notification that the offer was withdrawn due to the background check results.
  • Contact information for the screening company.
  • Explanation that the screening company was not involved in the decision to pursue adverse action.
  • Notification that the applicant can still dispute the background report results.


Following these steps will ensure that the failed background check is handled properly. The procedure should be well-documented in case the applicant decides to dispute the adverse action. The employer must be able to show why they decided not to hire the candidate, and that it was correctly communicated to the candidate in a timely manner.

Withdrawing an offer is a difficult action to take, but sometimes necessary after a failed background check. The employer should take into consideration the screening report, the candidate’s response, and the position that is going to be filled. Each piece of information must be weighed carefully so you can make the best hiring decision for the business.