What Do You Do When Job Candidates Ask About the Background Check?

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May 20, 2015

Most job candidates will have many questions for an employer throughout the hiring process — including questions about the employment background check.

Do you have the answers?

Ultimately, knowing these answers benefits you, your company, and the candidates. Being transparent throughout the hiring process as a whole, and especially during the background screening process greatly affects your candidate experience.

Here are questions that you should be prepared to answer about your background checks:

Why does your company use pre-employment screening?

The reasons employers use employee background checks can vary — from protecting clients to enhancing workplace safety to identifying the best candidates.

Whatever your reason, sharing this with your job candidates will help set them at ease. They should know that you’re not trying to disqualify them, but instead you want to find the information that will help you make a smart hiring decision.

What kind of information are you looking for?

This answer will again vary depending on your company’s hiring policy, the position and federal and state screening laws.

Every company is different — and no two background checks will look alike. Because your company should have its own customized screening services, make sure you’re open with your candidate about the kind of information you’re looking for.

If you’re searching for criminal records, explain to candidates that you want to protect your company, clients and other employees, and ensure that a potential employee does not have a past that could affect their job.

If you’re searching for resume discrepancies, explain that it’s not uncommon for minor discrepancies to be uncovered — such as dates of employment. However, also let them know if a larger discrepancy like claiming a degree they have not earned will affect your decision.

In short, regardless of the specific information you’re searching for — tell your candidates. Helping them understand why you’re looking for specific information will build trust and put them at ease about the screening process.

How long is the background screening process?

There’s no easy answer for this one, as it largely depends on the information you request in your background checks.

If you’re conducting a criminal background check, this will depend upon how many counties you’ve requested and how long it takes those courts to respond to a possible criminal hit. Employers should be in contact with their background screening provider, as they should be able to communicate if there’s a delay for any reason.

Another aspect that might affect turnaround time is if an education or employment verification is requested. For example, a more extensive employment history might also cause a delay.

Will anything you find disqualify me for the job?

Depending on state or federal screening laws, you may or may not be able to conduct a background check until later in the hiring process. Regardless of when you request a background check, it’s essential to be clear with candidates if there’s a particular record that might disqualify them.

It’s also crucial that your company hiring policy should clearly outline the type of criminal record or resume discrepancy that would disqualify a candidate — unless you want to find yourself in the middle of a lawsuit.

It’s also important to note that many employers actually prefer that a candidate be up front about their criminal past. While this is not always possible due to ban the box laws, if you’re able to ask for disclosure before the background check, clearly communicate your company policy for hiring candidates with a criminal record.

Will I be notified if something is found?

If a criminal background check uncovers disqualifying information on your candidate, you are required by law to send a pre-adverse and adverse action notification. While your background screening company was in compliance and verified the information there are still cases when a criminal record might be incorrect.

For example, if a record was expunged, but it was still reported, it’s vital that your candidate have the opportunity to dispute the information. Let candidates know that if information is found that they believe to be untrue, they will be notified and have sufficient time to make a dispute.

If you’re unsure about how to comply with the two-step adverse action notification, contact your background screening provider for legal counsel.

When all is said and done, your candidate experience will only be as good as your transparency about the background check process.

This was originally published on the EmployeeScreen IQ blog

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