1. Home
  2. Protection
We are reader supported and may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Learn more

What Does a Federal Employment Background Check Look Like?

Federal jobs require thorough background checks before new hirees are brought on board. This can be for security clearance, or just basic due diligence to ensure the agency isn’t hiring someone with a suspicious background. Regardless of their reasoning, getting a government level job means jumping through a lot of extra hoops. But what does a federal employment background check look like, and should you be worried about what could potentially show up?

Even though it can be terrifying to think about getting a background check for federal employment agencies, there really isn’t that much to worry about. In the article below we’ll discuss exactly what a federal employment background check looks like, complete with steps you can take to prepare yourself for the event. Sometimes looking into the best background check services is an incredible way to know yourself!

Basics of federal employee background checks

Everyone hired for a federal job will undergo a basic background check. Exactly what these routine scans look for will vary depending on the type of employment you’re seeking.

General background checks

Any employer who runs background checks on candidates is looking for at least two things: to verify resume details, and to check for a criminal background. It’s easy to tell both small and large fibs when applying for a job, especially if you don’t exactly meet the requirements for the position. By fudging certain details, many candidates hope to get a leg up on the competition. A background check lets employers verify education, past employment, and other details, ensuring they are actually hiring who they think they are.

Scanning for a criminal history is another common tactic when hiring new employees. Companies aren’t exactly looking for anything specific, here, just checking that the arrest report and criminal charges are minor, at worst. If the rap sheet isn’t clean, the employer will evaluate each charge individually. You’re not likely to land a job at a bank if you have been arrested for money laundering, for example.

Federal security clearances

Positions in the federal government are classified into one of three categories: non-sensitive, public trust, and national security. Each of these has different on-boarding requirements, and each one focuses on different things when it comes to your background check.

Lower level federal positions aren’t so sensitive about background investigations. Automated checks like the ones you might find when doing an online pre-employment background check are usually sufficient. Any criminal or financial issue may constitute dismissal from the hiring pool, but you won’t have to worry about any deep investigations into your history, only the basics.

High security background checks

If you’re applying for federal employment and will have access to confidential, secret, top secret, or even sensitive compartmented information, you can expect a rigorous background check that goes far beyond the usual automated scans. It starts with standard information verification, which includes your name, residential address, and other basic details. These are pretty standard as far as employment goes, but you can be sure that even the slightest mark will warrant a more thorough investigation.

High security clearance checks typically involve investigations via interviews with friends and family, along with thorough matchmaking done through state, local, federal, and national databases. Again, any suspicious or potentially sensitive area will warrant an even more thorough check, which means nearly every detail of your life will be turned over and examined.

What shows up on a federal employment background check?

From marriage records to phone numbers, employment histories to arrest reports, your federal employment background check is likely to have a ton of information on it. Here’s a quick rundown of what you can expect.

Your personal data

This part of the background check is more of a quick glance than anything. Here, federal employees will look to verify every piece of information you put on your resume. If you claim to have a university degree, they make sure it exists. They also look through your licenses (medical, legal, gun carry permits, etc.) where applicable, and make sure your employment history matches with the data in their hands. In addition to these details, the federal agency will also likely check your professional and legal status to make sure you’re a citizen, and they may even glance over marriage records.

Again, most of this is standard stuff found in public records databases. You can actually see a lot of the same information by searching for your own name in an online background checking service. See the section below for more details about how to do that.

Criminal records

Privacy and identity laws around the world aim to ensure individuals are never subjected to unwarranted, excessive, or clandestine enquiries into their personal details. They prevent companies from looking through your history without your consent, and they protect you from an interrogation into any criminal pasts during a job interview.

While federal employment agencies must adhere to these rules, you can expect them to be pushed to their limits during the background check phase. This is because any indication of a criminal past, even an innocent arrest or dismissed charges, can warrant dismissal from the candidate pool.

When your background check is run by a federal agency, they look for things like arrests, warrants, court summons, and even dismissed cases. Non-convictions and judgements that never led to a court appearance are also scrutinized. This applies to felony crimes as well as more severe misdemeanors, though smaller infractions such as parking tickets are generally overlooked.

Social media posts

This is probably the detail most people are worried about showing up on a federal employment background check. Yes, as is the case with just about any public background check, your social media posts will probably appear on your background screening for a federal job. There’s no official word on how deep these scans go, or how far back they check, but if you posted it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., it’s public, and there’s a good chance your employer will find it.

Tiered background checks

It’s not uncommon to see the low- and high-level security checks mentioned above divided into different tiers. The ones of note are tiers three through five, the ones that require thorough investigation to protect potentially sensitive information. They add more data to your background check, as well as deepen the sources required for obtaining said data.

If you have to undergo a tier 3 investigation, the National Agency Check (NAC) will look at results from previous government investigations, including the FBI fingerprint database and other government-level arrest records. This is in addition to basic automated background checks that verify core identity information such as name, address, and current residence.

Tier 4 and tier 5 up the ante as far as investigations are concerned, but surprisingly, they don’t go into that much more depth. Instead of more rigorous identity confirmations, the higher tiers make it mandatory to check and re-check data on a regular basis, ensuring no new details surface over time. This ensures security clearances remain valid for the duration of federal employment.

Run a background check on yourself

Search Over 1 Billion Public Records
Run a comprehensive background check on ...

Not sure what will show up on your federal employment background check? There’s a quick and simple way to find out: run a background check on yourself! Online background scanning services look through millions of public records to find everything from name, age, and contact details to arrest reports and social media content. You can get a quick preview of what your employer might see by running a check yourself, and it’s a lot easier than you might think.

Best background check services

Finding a good, secure, and thorough background checking service that’s both affordable and easy to use is a tall order to fill. Most of these companies fall behind in one or more areas, making them difficult to understand or providing you with inaccurate data.

We used the criteria listed below to search for the best background checking services online. Our recommendations are in the next section, so if you need a hand running your own background check, they’re ready to serve.

  • Accuracy – If a service doesn’t include up to date information or delivers outdated content, your search will be pointless.
  • Customer support – Background checks are tricky, which is why services with reliable customer support are invaluable.
  • Layout – Does your service deliver information in an easy to understand format, or is it nearly impossible to read? Usability can be a deal breaker.
  • Speed – Background checks can take time, even online ones that comb through public records. You need a service that delivers information instantly.

1  – BeenVerified

BeenVerified is one of the fastest and most reliable background checking companies online. It offers complete search services for criminal records, former bankruptcies, contact information, financial data, and much more, all available from easy to read reports delivered directly to your favorite device. BeenVerified is trusted by over a hundred thousand subscribers and has been in business for over a decade, serving 146 million reports to satisfied users across the United States.

Using BeenVerified to run a background check on yourself is incredibly easy to do. You’ll start by choosing a membership plan, selecting from a number of affordable options that include unlimited reports, unlimited phone and e-mail lookups, and the fastest record searches in the business. After joining you’ll be able to search public records on your PC or with apps for iPhone, iPad, and Android, making it incredibly convenient to use.

BEST SERVICE: BeenVerified is our top choice for running a background check. Get full and unlimited access to BeenVerified’s background check reports with our exclusive discount. Join now and see what your employer will learn when they run their own check.

2 – Instant CheckMate

Instant CheckMate is a public records searching service that lets you run your own background checks with a minimum amount of effort. You’ll be able to comb through arrest records, criminal records, known aliases, financial history, previous jobs, and more, all with fast results delivered directly to your PC, Android device, or iPhone. When you need to know what an employer will see when they run a background check on you, Instant CheckMate is one of the best services you can use.

Using Instant CheckMate is as straightforward as you can get. All you need to do is type in someone’s name, including your own, select a general location, then begin the search. ICM dives into tons of real public records to find every possible resource it can. Best of all, every subscription includes unlimited searches and fully up to date information, putting one of the most powerful background checking resources at your fingertips.

HOT PRICE: Sign up with Instant CheckMate for a powerful background checking service at a fantastic price. Search your own records so you’ll know what your employer will see before they even see it.

3 – TruthFinder

Stay one step ahead of federal employment agencies running their own background checks by keeping tabs on your own records. Services like TruthFinder deliver a ton of useful information straight to your screen, including criminal records, arrest data, contact information, financial histories, educational background, and employment records. You can also search through deep and dark web information and social media posts to see what else might show up on a public search.

Many background checking companies let you search thousands of public record sources, but few present the information in an easy to understand way. TruthFinder delivers the data you need in smartly organized reports that anyone can read. You can sign up and run a background check on yourself in a matter of moments, all without having to interpret complicated charts in your spare time.

GREAT DEAL: Get an incredible discount on TruthFinder with our exclusive deal. Sign up today and enjoy unlimited background searches with one of the best interfaces around.

4 – Intelius

Intelius delivers accurate, reliable, up to date, and easy to understand information gathered from a wealth of public sources, making it easy to dive in and research your own online identity in a flash. Subscription plans are affordable and offer just the right set of features you need, including unlimited searches and instant access to background check databases. As soon as you join you’ll be able to look through arrest reports, social network data, financial information, educational backgrounds, and so much more.


What does a federal employment background check look like? It varies depending on the type of job you’re applying for, but overall it includes your basic identity data, resources on your employment and educational history, and a detailed report about any arrests or criminal activity you’ve been involved with. Some federal positions investigate above and beyond this before hiring, but you will always be notified if this is the case, as there are laws in place protecting your privacy and identity.

Have you ever applied for a federal job? What was the background checking experience like for you? Let everyone know in the comments section below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.