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Should You Worry About Background Checks?

ROMA: Were you the guy who broke in?
GEORGE: …no.
ROMA: Then don’t sweat it, George, you know why?
GEORGE: No.
ROMA: You have nothing to hide.
GEORGE: When I talk to the police, I get nervous.
ROMA: Yeah. You know who doesn’t?
GEORGE: No, who?
ROMA: Thieves.

-David Mamet, Glengarry Glen Ross (Screenplay, 1992)

For many applicants, the worst of the admissions process is likely over by now. But at this stage, a new anxiety looms: the background check. Should the majority of candidates be concerned about background checks? The simple answer is “No.” The admissions committees know that almost all applicants have represented themselves in an honest manner. The background checks are not designed to bring accusations against the innocent but to catch those who have willfully deceived.

What does that mean, exactly? If you indicated that you were at a job or company that never actually existed or you changed your title from analyst to vice president, you might have a reason to sweat. If you accidentally noted that you left your job in January instead of February, no one is going to rescind your offer of admission. You are certainly innocent until proven guilty, and the burden of guilt is not on the applicant who may have committed a minor error but on the one who attempted to misrepresent or defraud.




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