Last Updated on 2024-01-05

Amazon Background Check: Timeline & What They Look For [2024]

We worked with these active, experienced gig-workers to write this article and bring you first-hand knowledge.

author image

Davis Porter

Experienced writer/researcher in the gig industry working alongside our gig-workers

author image

Ismael Flores

T3 with experience in a Fulfillment Center and Amazon Corporate. He has 3+ years of experience working in the Waterspider, Problem Solver, Stower, and Compliance Specialist roles

author image

Justin “JJ” James

T1 Asssociate in a Delivery Station with 2+ years of experience working in the Stower, Picker, and Stager roles

author image

Ozy Watson

T1 Asssociate with 1+ year of experience working in the Unloader, Scanner, Stager, Stower, Picker, Inducter, Pusher, Diverter, and Pick-to-Buffer roles

The information provided in this post is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The content contains general information and may not reflect current legal developments. Any reader should consult with a legal professional to obtain advice tailored to their specific circumstances.

In 2023, Amazon's employment strategy has evolved to prioritize inclusivity and growth opportunities – particularly in warehouse roles that demand high efficiency and reliability.

For entry level L1 positions (if you are new to working at Amazon, this is probably the one you’ll apply for), you start by submitting an application and attending your pre-hire appointment – where you’ll show your photo ID and proof of work authorization, fill out paperwork, plus take a drug test.

If you’re applying for any L3 position or higher, you’ll additionally have to take some role-specific assessments to evaluate your suitability. Upon completion of those, they’ll conduct an interview to check how well you’re aligned with Amazon's Leadership Principles.  

Whichever level you are applying for, however, your process will ultimately culminate with a thorough background check. The following guide explains how the background checks are structured, what the Amazon HR team looks for, the impact of the resultant report, and why a negative record may not necessarily lead to your disqualification. 

Does Amazon do background checks?

Amazon conducts background checks for all its positions, including warehouse workers recruited for its Fulfillment Centers, Delivery Stations, and Sortation Centers. This is how it confirms that every new hire meets the company's standards and can perform their duties responsibly. 

In conducting the checks, Amazon makes an effort to comply accordingly with employment laws  – including the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA ) and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidelines. The company is further committed to keeping all its background checks fair, unbiased, and respectful of applicants' privacy.

The checks review every candidate's criminal record in detail. They may also extend to your employment history and educational background, depending on the position and site you’ve applied for. Whatever the case, the outcome can influence whether or not the company proceeds with hiring you.

How the background checking process works

For L1 warehouse associate roles, the Amazon background check is usually conducted on candidates who’ve been provisionally selected to be hired, after the application submission and pre-hire appointment stages. 

Every applicant is supposed to provide detailed and accurate information about their past employment, educational history, and any other pertinent aspects. They must also consent to the background check and may be required to submit additional documentation or clarification if discrepancies arise. 

The timeline for Amazon's background check process varies, but generally takes a few days to a couple of weeks. It all depends on multiple factors, including the depth of the checks needed for the specific role, plus the responsiveness of external agencies and institutions involved in verifying information.

Justin James, who’s now an associate in an Amazon delivery station, successfully went through all that more than two years ago. “I was hired as a seasonal employee and the onboarding process took no more than a week after submitting my application,” he explains.

The background check is run by third-party providers

Amazon engages the services of specialized third-party background check providers, notably Sterling Infosystems, Accurate, and First Advantage. They use advanced data analytics to scrutinize public records, employment, and educational histories while observing the guidelines laid out by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

Sterling Infosystems, for instance, runs sophisticated algorithms that can scan through databases for criminal records, credit history, and employment details. Their system cross-references data from multiple sources to create comprehensive applicant profiles.

Accurate, on the other hand, boasts a highly responsive digital platform that helps candidates submit information and track the progress of their background checks. 

First Advantage is the most well-known of the three. It allows Amazon to recruit even internationally, thanks to its extensive global network that covers multiple jurisdictions. 

Checking your Amazon background check status 

Applicants can track their background check status on the Amazon Jobs website. They all track progress in real-time, allowing you to confirm the status of your background check as it progresses through each stage.

Status updates are normally labeled as 'pending', 'in progress', or 'completed’, based on real-time data streams from the background checks. For example, 'in progress' may indicate an ongoing criminal record check, while 'completed' means all aspects of the check have been concluded. 

The provider’s systems are further synced with Amazon, allowing it to send out time communication about background checks. Upon completion, you’ll receive an automated notification along with instructions on the next steps to take.

In case of any unclear statuses or delays, you’re advised to first check your email inbox for possible communication from Amazon or the background check provider. If the problem persists, you can always reach out to the provider's customer support for assistance.   

What does Amazon look for in its background checks? 

To verify candidates’ qualifications for their roles, Amazon focuses its background checks on the following:

  • Criminal History: The company probes both national and county-level databases to uncover any criminal records on misdemeanors, felonies, and federal offenses. It then evaluates the nature of the crime, its relevance to the job, and the time elapsed since the offense.

Criminal history is checked and closely scrutinized for all roles at Amazon,” confirms Ozy Watson, a California-based Amazon T1 warehouse associate. 

  • (L3+ only) Employment History: This is where applicants who’ve faked their resume credentials are weeded out. Amazon contacts previous employers and references employee databases to confirm the positions you’ve held in the past, the duration of employment, and the reasons for leaving those jobs.

However, this check doesn’t apply to everyone,” clarifies Ozy. “Your employment history will probably not be reviewed if you’re applying for an L1 entry-level role, like warehouse associate,” he adds. “It’s generally only scrutinized for L3 roles and above.” 

  • (L3+ only) Educational Background: The Amazon background check further verifies the authenticity of degrees and certifications claimed by applicants by cross-referencing them with records from accredited educational institutions.

This is also not meant for L1 Amazon warehouse candidates,” explains Ozy. “You should only expect educational history checks when applying for L3+ positions”. 

  • (DSP only) Driving Records: For roles that involve driving, Amazon reviews both state DMV records and national driving databases. It especially checks for valid licenses, traffic violations, DUIs, and other relevant incidents. 

In agreement, Ozy adds, “Amazon warehouse associates don’t have their driving records screened, but all Amazon DSP drivers will have theirs thoroughly reviewed.”

How far back does it go?

Amazon's background checks span seven years at most, in line with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) guidelines. 

The extent of the criminal history checks may, however,  vary based on the applicant's location and state laws. Some states limit the reporting of criminal offenses to seven years, while others allow a longer period or have no restrictions.

For certain positions requiring greater scrutiny, such as those involving security, finance, or sensitive information, Amazon may conduct a more extensive background check that exceeds the standard seven years.

Offenses older than seven years are usually not considered in the hiring process, except for serious offenses that are highly relevant to the job. 

According to Ozy, “The effect a criminal record will have on your Amazon application highly depends on the situation.Pending charges are generally not taken into account. A misdemeanor charge unrelated to the job will likely not even get a second glance. However, a violent felony or a crime related to the job (such as theft or embezzlement) may disqualify you.”

How accurate are the reports?

While Amazon aims for precision in its background checks, inaccuracies can still occur. The most common issues leading to false positives include:

  • Data Mismatch and Overlap: Common names or similar social security numbers can easily be mismatched. In database-driven checks, this might result in the incorrect attribution of one person's data to another. 
  • Outdated or Incomplete Records: Databases not regularly updated may retain outdated information. For instance, an expunged criminal record might still appear if the database hasn't been updated.

Nevertheless, when inaccuracies occur in background checks, the following steps can be taken to resolve them:

  1. Identify the Error: Review the background check report carefully to pinpoint specific inaccuracies.
  2. File a Dispute: Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you have the right to dispute errors in background check reports. You can go ahead and make your submissions to the checking agency that’s responsible. And while at it, remember to provide detailed information about the error and any supporting evidence to substantiate the claim.
  3. Agency Response: The agency conducting the background check is legally obligated to investigate the dispute within 30 days. They must then respond, either confirming the correction of the error or explaining why the dispute has been rejected.
  4. Follow-up: If the error is corrected, you might want to follow up with Amazon to verify that they’ve received the updated information. The hiring process may then proceed with the correct data. 

Possible outcomes of the background check stage

Amazon is known for its thorough evaluations, which consider any negative findings that may be relevant to your role. 

Once the background check is complete, those findings are always integrated into the company’s final hiring decisions. Amazon subsequently assesses them on a case-by-case basis in the context of the job's requirements and company policies. 

Any negative findings here will not automatically disqualify a candidate, especially for an entry-level role. Many applicants have managed to sail through even with criminal records, and some of them ultimately proceed to establish successful careers in Amazon’s warehouses. 

“It should however be noted that while having no employment history, having no degree, and (in some cases) having a criminal record may not hamper your application for an L1 position, lying will,” cautions Ozy

When the background check is taking forever

Any delays in the processing of the background check results could be due to:

  • Manual Record Retrieval: In areas where records are not digitized, the operations are manual and time-consuming.
  • Data Mismatch and Verification: Discrepancies between applicant-provided data and public records often require additional verification steps, thereby setting back the entire process.
  • Additional Checks for Certain Roles: For positions involving high security or access to sensitive information, Amazon performs more in-depth checks. These may include a detailed analysis of financial records or a deeper investigation into criminal history, both of which naturally take longer.
  • Court and Institutional Delays: Slow responses from courts or educational institutions can also prolong the process.

Most of these delays can be resolved within a few days. You should only start getting concerned if the wait surpasses the four-week mark. 

How do you know if you’ve passed?

Candidates who pass their background check normally receive a notification via email. The message will indicate that the background check process is complete and then confirm your fulfillment of the employment criteria. 

You may also find a similar notification on the Amazon candidate portal, which is where applicants go to monitor their application and background check status.

Do note that "Passing" the background check doesn't necessarily imply a spotless record. It, instead, means that any issues identified do not disqualify your application for the position you applied for.

After that notification, you’ll receive further instructions about the hiring process. This may include job offer details, orientation schedules, or other onboarding activities.

How do you know if you’ve failed?

In instances where a candidate fails the background check, Amazon follows a structured yet more complex communication process due to legal and privacy considerations.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) obligates the company to issue a pre-adverse action notice that discloses the reasons for disqualification. The letter should be accompanied by the background check report, plus a summary of the candidate's rights.

A negative outcome also means you’ll get an opportunity to dispute any inaccuracies. However, the window for this is limited, though. Most people are given a maximum of five days to lodge their cases with the background check provider. 

If, after all that, Amazon still decides to sustain the candidate’s rejection, they will send an adverse action notice. This is more of a final confirmation of their decision not to hire. It comes with additional information on the candidate's rights – including how to obtain another free copy of the background check report, along with the contact details of the background check company.

Remember, failing a background check for one position doesn't permanently disqualify you from Amazon employment. You can always seek other positions or maybe even reapply for the same one at a later date.

Does Amazon accept applicants with felony conviction records?

Yes, Amazon does consider applicants with felony convictions. The company's hiring practices follow the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidelines, which discourage employers from automatically disqualifying candidates based on criminal records. 

When reviewing the background records of such applicants, the company tends to consider the following:

  • Nature and Severity of the Felony: Amazon pays close attention to the type of felony committed. Violent crimes, sexual offenses, or high-level theft are taken more seriously – particularly for roles requiring trust or access to sensitive areas.
  • Recency of the Conviction: Recent felonies may raise more concerns compared to older ones
  • Relevance to the Job Role: The specific responsibilities of the role in question are considered in relation to the felony. For example, a history of shoplifting might be relevant for roles involving inventory management.

How to get hired with a criminal record

For individuals with a criminal record aspiring to join Amazon, here are the measures to take:

  • Full Disclosure: Be upfront about your criminal history. Amazon's background checks are thorough, and any discrepancies between your application and the background report can lead to disqualification.
  • Highlight Rehabilitation Efforts: If you've undertaken any rehabilitation programs, educational courses, or community service, make sure to highlight them in your application. This demonstrates your commitment to personal growth and responsibility.
  • Attune Your Application: Focus on how your skills and experiences, including those gained during your time in rehabilitation or training programs, make you a suitable candidate for the job.
  • Prepare for the Interview: If you’re applying for an L3+ role with an interview, get ready to discuss your conviction openly and honestly during the interview. Explain the context, the lessons learned, and how you've evolved since then.
  • Seek Support: Leverage resources available for felons seeking employment, such as job readiness programs and support groups. They can guide you accordingly on how to present your background effectively.
  • Consider Entry-Level Positions: Be open to starting with entry-level roles, as they often provide a pathway to more advanced opportunities within Amazon.

In my experience being hired as a seasonal T1 employee, the background check process was a breeze,” admits Justin

Get started

So, don’t ever let Amazon’s background check process deter you. Instead, see it as a step towards a promising future with one of the world's most innovative companies. Take the initiative today and apply for a warehouse position that suits your skills and aspirations. 

Keep Learning...