Using Adverse Information on Background Checks in Hiring Decision
August 14, 2008
employeescreenIQ’s Rob Thomson just wrote a great article which we published on employeescreen University entitled, “Consumer Reports: How Should Potential Adverse Information Factor in My Hiring Decision”. This information can be helpful for organizations who are uncertain how to use adverse information found on a background check. See excerpt from the article below:
Adverse information in a consumer report could be considered anything that contradicts information the applicant has provided during the application/interview process, or anything negative that turns up in the course of looking into the applicant’s background. It may be as simple and innocuous as misstating dates of employment in a previous job, or as serious as a history of violent felony convictions. There is a broad spectrum of potentially adverse information, so it is important to give some thought as to how much weight should be assigned to different types of adverse information in your hiring decision. Adverse information can be considered using the following questions:
- How serious is the discrepancy?
- Is it related to the duties/responsibilities the applicant will be performing?
- How long ago did it happen?
- Is there a pattern of discrepancies?
- If you choose to ask the applicant directly about adverse information, do they offer a reasonable and verifiable explanation for the discrepancy?
There can and will be borderline scenarios where you want to hire someone who really stands out as the best candidate, but they have a discrepancy in their past for which you have previously denied employment to another candidate. In these cases it is important to document why you may have chosen to hire one applicant with a specific type of adverse history and not another with the same. Let’s use an example: last year you hired a file clerk and the background check revealed a DUI conviction from 9 years ago. A check of the file today reveals that the applicant otherwise had a clean record and in all other respects was the most qualified for the job. While most would consider a DUI a serious driving offense, the job involves no driving, it happened long enough ago that the applicant has established and maintained a responsible history since, and there are no other discrepancies to suggest a pattern. Given these factors, you chose to ask the applicant for details about the incident, and the file is documented that you were impressed with the community service and self-improvement activities the applicant initiated as a direct result of the incident. Another candidate, when asked, may have provided no evidence of having taken responsibility for their action and was not hired (obviously, this should be documented as well).