It’s that alarming moment when the background check reveals that your top job candidate has a criminal record. Is this a deal breaker? What should you do? Believe it or not, a criminal record does not mean that your candidate is over and done with.
In fact, there are five key steps that will help you determine whether or not your candidate should be disqualified and, at the same time, how you can stay compliant with state and federal screening laws.
1. Legal Considerations
As the country continues to pull itself out of an economic slump, the competition for jobs remains fierce and candidates are more likely to seek legal recourse when they are not hired. If your candidate has a criminal background, the first step is to educate yourself on the top legal issues that could land you in court. Your focus should be on compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and anti-discrimination laws.
In addition, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) published updated guidance on employers’ use of criminal background checks in April of 2012 to address its concern that criminal background checks have an unintended discriminatory impact on particular minority groups. When a background check reveals that a candidate has a record, employers should review the EEOC guidance.
Other legal considerations include ban-the-box ordinances and state laws, which may restrict the use of criminal history information until later in the hiring process—usually after the interview stage.
2. Hiring Matrix
Many companies have adopted background screening policies that define the types of crimes that may disqualify candidates from certain positions.There is no set formula for creating a hiring matrix. As a rule of thumb, qualifications based on criminal history should be position-specific, should not include “blanket policies,” and should give the applicant an opportunity to provide additional information or question the decision. Whatever the format, a hiring matrix, or decision matrix serves as a set of guidelines to be applied consistently and creates a clear standard against which every applicant is adjudicated or qualified.
3. Individualized Assessments
The EEOC guidance on the use of criminal records created a de facto new requirement that was introduced in 2012. This new requirement addresses the potentially discriminatory impact of criminal records to the hiring process; the EEOC wants employers to conduct “individualized assessments” before making final decisions based on criminal records.
Some factors employers should consider during an individualized assessment:
Additional facts or circumstances surrounding the offense.
Older age at the time of the offense or the time of release.
Evidence that the individual performed the same type of work post-conviction with no known incidents of criminal conduct.
Employment or character references along with any other information regarding fitness for the particular position.
4. Adverse Action
Adverse action is a process required by the FCRA when you find a criminal record (or any other adverse background information) that will disqualify a candidate for employment. Under the FCRA, employers have to give applicants notice before a hiring decision is made informing them that they might be rejected based on the results of a background check. Using this process, the applicant has an opportunity to see the background report, challenge any inaccuracies in the report, and clear any negative information that is disqualifying him or her from the job. The FCRA also requires a second notice, after a final decision has been made not to hire.
5. Dispute Process
The final step to consider when your applicant has a criminal record is providing the candidate an opportunity to dispute the findings of the background check. The law gives candidates the right to contact the background screening company directly to dispute the accuracy of a background report. If that happens, the background screening company will notify the candidate that a dispute is pending. Some companies delay a final decision until the dispute is resolved.
During dealings with the Soviet Union, former President Ronald Reagan coined the term, “Trust, but verify.” It is not too difficult to decipher the meaning of this phrase and apply the concept to your company’s human resources best practices.
A large part of an organization’s human resources function involves the onboarding of new personnel. Would it be surprising to know that in many cases the determination to hire someone happens within five minutes of meeting them? What happens when a charming applicant gives all the right answers? Besides having a successful interview, one very important part of the recruitment process is background and reference checking. Reference checking is vital to verify a candidate’s background and can be an important step in insuring positive turnover rates. The cost of a bad hire is often overlooked but it can negatively impact your company’s bottom line by wasting valuable time and resources. Combined with proper interviewing techniques, reference checking can help you to verify that a candidate’s abilities are a match to the skills that are needed to successfully perform in a specific position in your organization.
Reference checking involves personally contacting former employers (with the candidate’s approval). Advise the former employer whom you are contacting of your purpose for the call or email. Be sure to identify yourself and your company and inform them that you are seriously considering the candidate for employment, and that you would like to ask a few questions in relation to the candidate’s experience and qualifications. It is also a good idea to give a brief description of the role you are considering the candidate as the person you are contacting may be able to use that information to provide specific feedback relating to the role.
Here are a few questions you may consider asking:
What were the job functions of the position the candidate held with your company?
Based on the job duties we are offering this candidate, do you personally believe that this candidate can successfully perform this job?
What management style did this candidate best respond to?
Did the candidate excel in a team environment, or work better alone?
Was the candidate dependable? Attendance record? Punctuality?
What areas do you think the candidate can improve on?
What are the candidate’s three strongest work qualities?
Would you re-hire the candidate? Why or why not?
Taking these simple steps to verify a candidate’s good character and qualifications can make a huge difference in your decision about whether or not to ultimately hire him or her. Though we all like to trustthat each candidate’s self-proclaimed qualifications and achievements are accurate, it is always a wise idea to verifyinformation, as ultimately this candidate will be involved in essential functions of your business when they become an employee. By staying well prepared and keeping in mind common interview mistakes, as well as having all the information you can gather during a reference check, you will be able to rest assured knowing you are making the right hiring decision for your organization.
About the Author: Michele O’Donnell leads MMC’s team of HR consultants. Her experience spans the broad scope of labor law, regulatory compliance and HR best practices, drawn from her rich experience as director of HR for several firms throughout her career.
The endorsement process is an evolution. What you try to do is you endorse someone that you believe in and their ideas align with yours. -Herman Cain
“It’s not what you know, it is who you know.” I’ve heard this statement throughout my college years and my career hunt. So, if everyone I know endorses me on LinkedIn, or if I email personal endorsements with my resume, will that land me the perfect job?
Recently I’ve been researching the role of social media in predicting consumer behavior. I see a connection with professional endorsements. For example, today’s technologies allow companies to track customer sentiment. According to Nielsen’s latest Global Trust in Advertising Report, 92% of consumers around the world say that they trust earned media (such as recommendations from friends or family) above all other forms of advertising.
If consumer reviews have such a significant influence on potential buyers, then surely professional endorsements carry tremendous weight with recruiters and job seekers.
But what about the new “skills endorsement” feature in LinkedIn profiles? What do these “thumbs up” stamps of approval really mean? How authentic are they? Are they considered credible? And how do they relate to more traditional professional recommendations?
I am not the only one with these questions. That’s why the TalentCulture community focused attention this week on the role of recommendations in today’s social workplace.
G+ Hangout Video: As a prelude to his appearance later in the week, Mike Dwyer, discussed the value of endorsements with TalentCulture community manager, Tim McDonald. Mike is Co-founder of QUEsocial, a social business platform that equips employees with training, content and motivation to improve their performance.
WED 1/23 #TChat on Twitter: Mike and Marla joined us again – this time on the Twitter stream – as Mike led participants through an open discussion of issues, experiences and best practices in managing professional recommendations. Representative comments are featured below…
NOTE: To see specific highlights from yesterday’s “The Power of Online Endorsements” #TChat session on Twitter, see the Storify slideshow at the end of this post.
What is the value of endorsements and recommendations online?
Endorsements SUCK. Require no effort & too many ppl are abusing them to try to garner reciprocal endorsements. @DawnRasmussen
Are all online endorsement and related activity created equal?
I feel that referrals and recommendations weigh more than endorsements. It’s not a one click free-for all. @AshLaurenPerez
+K endorsement on klout is like Linkedin endorsement. Fast and fleeting, with no context. Written endorsements prove relevance. @bryanchaney
LinkedIn endorse. would make more sense if they had engagement portion where you could see discussion about person/brand taking place. @rezlady
How should leaders interpret online recommendations and endorsements?
Consider the source. Probably best not take at face value. @TomBolt
As an initial filter it will probably speed up recruitment, but, I still prefer meeting people to make an accurate choice. @EnZzzoo
When do *you* endorse a fellow professional online?
Endorsements are nice but in prefer calling people and talking business. @levyrecruits
I have to know someone personally to endorse them and have something significant to say to recommend them. @nancyrubin
How is tech changing the nature and value of endorsements and recommendations?
Tech will increasingly become the norm. For delicate HR placements it will never replace a genuine CV and interview…I hope. @EnZzzoo
While tech makes it easier for everyone to see your endorsements, when abused it dimisses value for all. Why you need network. @tamcdonald
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Closing Notes & Highlights Slideshow
SPECIAL THANKS: A nod to Mike Dwyer and Marla Gottschalk PhD for your leadership this week. The TalentCulture community would recommend you anywhere, anytime!
NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events inspire you to write about professional endorsements or other “world of work” issues? We’re happy to share your thoughts. Just post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll pass it along.
WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week, we examine “Diversity of What?” – a fresh take on diversity in the workplace. Be sure to mark your calendar – first for #TChat Radio, Tuesday, Jan 29, at 7:30pm ET. And then for #TChat Twitter Wednesday, Jan 30, at 7pm ET. Look for more details on Monday, January 28 via @TalentCulture and #TChat.