The answer depends on whether the inquiry is hard or soft. A soft inquiry, such as an employer background check, an initial credit card qualification, or an account set-up with a utility company, should not impact your credit score. Checking your own score should also count as a soft inquiry. In the case of initial credit card screening or an employer check, you may not even know whether a soft inquiry has taken place.
In contrast, a hard inquiry applies when you are actively seeking credit, and it impacts your credit score. Examples include applying for home mortgage or auto loans. Since you must sign documents to initiate such applications, you are giving consent for the inquiry and are aware of it. A hard inquiry may reduce your FICO score by around 5 points while your VantageScore could be reduced by 10 to 20 points.
There is some gray area regarding hard and soft inquiries. For example, home-rental applications may be hard or soft so you should ask before you formally apply.
If you’re shopping for rates you needn’t worry that multiple applications will each lower your score: both FICO and VantageScore consider multiple inquiries within several weeks to be a single inquiry. But the time period and impact on your score may differ. FICO may allow a 45-day period for rate-shopping while VantageScore allows less time.