15 Ways Companies Check You Out Before Saying, "You're Hired!"

You want the job. You're qualified for the job. Why can't the company just give you the job?

Did you really think it was going to be easy?

Are you kidding? Employers want to know who they're hiring, and they're going to be pretty darn intrusive in checking you out before extending you an offer. 

In case you were wondering, companies have many ways they vet job candidates before hiring them. Some you may have expected, others may surprise you. You will experience some combination of the below. Employers apply the old Reagan-ism: Trust but verify. And, by the way, this list is far from complete. There are other ways for companies to gather information about you...

  1. The Resume - Your resume serves so many purposes to somebody reading it. It's a spelling test. It's a grammar test. It's a Microsoft Word publishing test. It's an honesty test. Reviewers will make several judgments about you, just based upon that 1 to 2 page resume.
  2. Interviews - Grueling meetings with employees of the company. Usually includes the hiring manager, sometimes peers, human resources, internal customers, or anybody with a stake in the hiring decision.
  3. Criminal Background Checks - Employers want to see if you can be trusted with the keys to the company car, or if you're going to take it straight to the chop shop first time you drive off.
  4. Employment Verification - Did you really work at the company, in the role you indicated, for the pay you detailed? Let's find out!
  5. Credit Checks - Another measure of trustworthiness. How do you handle your finances? If you've declared bankruptcy or have overdue bills, what does that say about your ability to manage company resources? Will your expense report be a bit padded to cover your personal expenses?
  6. Physicals - It's rare (but not unheard of) to be sent to the doctor for an evaluation if either your job involves a great deal of physical activity, or if you're considered so critical to the organization that they need to make sure you're healthy.
  7. Skills Testing - The job requires you to be good at Microsoft PowerPoint - would you be willing to take a timed exam to see just how skilled you really are?
  8. Psychological / Personality Testing - These come in many flavors, but the purpose is the same - employers want to see how well you fit within the organization, and what are your predicted behaviors and predilections.
  9. Polygraph - The old lie detector. Legal in several states, another test of your trustworthiness. Don't be surprised to take one of these when applying for security or law enforcement roles.
  10. References - You provide the names and numbers of former supervisors or coworkers, and the company speaks with them to find out what a swell guy or gal you were.
  11. Informal References - Major gray area; this is when somebody at the company says, "Hey, I know somebody who used to work with that guy at my old employer! Let me get the skinny!" Then they do this without the applicant's knowledge or consent.
  12. Deep Background / Character Investigations - Applying to a position requiring access to top secret data? You might get an investigator or G-man poking around, asking your neighbors about your most personal details.
  13. Asking Around - The hiring manager may ask people who interacted with you, how you behaved. Better have treated that receptionist with dignity and respect...
  14. Your Social Media - Who says they won't find those pictures on Facebook from your drunken escapade in Tijuana? And do you know what comes up in Google when somebody enters your name? How's that picture on your LinkedIn profile?
  15. Drug & Substance Testing - About that trip to Tijuana...

Bottom line: There's a lot of information about you out there, and companies won't be shy in gathering as much as they can before deciding whether to offer you a job. Be prepared!


Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. He is a Human Resources professional and staffing expert with almost two decades of in-house corporate HR and staffing firm experience, and is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC).

Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.