What Does Decisional Mean on a Background Check?

If you apply for a job you’ll be subject to a background check. All employers do them to evaluate a potential employee’s criminal record, credit record, past employment, and other details of their past. Every company has different hiring policies and uses them to decide whether or not a candidate is suitable for the job.

Companies use an adjudication matrix which is an evaluation process that evaluates the results of a candidate’s background check and compares it with their own terms and policies. A decisional on a background check means something has come up that the employer must manually review in order to go ahead with your application. 

If you get a decisional status it doesn’t mean you’ve failed their background checks, but it also doesn’t mean you’ve passed it. The hiring team will manually review it to check why you didn’t automatically pass. No two companies have the same policy on who they hire which is why there needs to be an independent review. 

For example, if you have anything on your criminal record related to driving offenses then it’s going to be more difficult to pass a decisional if you’re applying for a delivery driver job.

However, if the job you’re applying for has nothing to do with driving then the hiring team will be more likely to approve your background check. 

Reasons Why A Background Check Report Might Say “Decisional“

Your background check can come back with a decisional status for a number of different reasons. Excluding all serious crimes that will land you in jail for a long time, examples of things that will result in a decisional include:

  • Driving offenses: Things like DUIs, reckless driving, and a repeating pattern of causing accidents are all common driving offenses that might make a background check report say decisional. Whether or not the employer will look past them largely determines what kind of job it is and the number of offenses.
  • Vandalism: Vandalism (criminal damage) can also cause your background check to be manually reviewed. The details behind it and the damage done will play a big role in whether or not the company will hire you.
  • Drug-related crimes: Offenses including drugs are among the most common misdemeanors so it’s no surprise they’ll be a red flag during a background check. A drug offense won’t automatically disqualify you from a job as it doesn’t make you a bad person.
  • Public intoxication: Alcohol can cause someone to do things they normally wouldn’t that ends up getting them a public intoxication charge. It shouldn’t be too much of a problem as long as there isn’t a string of repeating patterns, but as always it depends on the company.
  • Trespassing: Something minor like trespassing can also trigger a decisional to occur. As long as there was no real harm done to anyone employers can give you a pass after the manual review.
  • Petty theft: Misdemeanours that include petty theft will certainly be flagged up by the company’s adjudication matrix. If the job requires you to handle money or valuable goods then it isn’t likely the company will want to hire you considering your past.

Does Decisional Mean I Am Disqualified?

Does Decisional Mean disqualified

A decisional means that you CAN be disqualified, the hiring team at the company needs to comb through your background check while comparing it with their values and policies first.

If they find something that they don’t tolerate which you have been found guilty of in the past then it will lead to you being disqualified. 

It doesn’t mean automatic disqualification as there is still a chance you can be given a pass even after your background check came back as decisional. It largely depends on the type of job you’re applying for, how serious the crime was, and if the crime is related to the job.


Seeing a decisional status on your background check can leave you doubtful if you’re going to get the job or not. It isn’t an outright no but it means something on your record alerted the company to do a manual review. 

During this manual review, the company hiring team will inspect further and find out why you caused the algorithm to be alerted. They use this information to compare your record with the business’s own policies in order to make the decision to hire you or not.

bryan rucker
Written by Brian Williams

Brian is an expert in security, privacy, and information. He has studied background checks, criminal, people search, and such topics over the last 5 years. He is also an avid writer and enjoys sharing his knowledge through this blog. Read more of Brian's articles.