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Checking Background & Credit
When the topic of interviewing and hiring comes up, the discussion always includes criminal background checks and credit checks of potential new hires. This isn’t a straightforward process, so ensure you are considering the following:
- The federal law continues to morph when it comes to the legality of how to check and how to use the data from these checks in your hiring decision; stay current with the federal law. The EEOC is increasing their scrutiny of using credit checks for specific roles in an organization. The EEOC will also continue to evolve in regards to how to use a criminal conviction in a hiring decision.
- The individual states can also have laws that affect how to check and how to use the data from these checks in your hiring decision; stay current with YOUR state laws. According to SHRM (Society of Human Resource Management), as of July 2012 the following states have prohibited the use of credit reports in the selection process: California, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Oregon, Vermont and the state of Washington.
- You MUST have written permission from the candidate prior to checking background or credit; don’t do either of these behind the back of any candidate!
- Decide at what point you want to use these checks in your selection process. Typically these checks are done when candidates reach the top tier of the interview process, or are offered the position contingent on these checks.
- Perform the same checks on the all of the candidates who reach this determined phase of the interviewing process. You should NOT perform checks randomly on people who all reach the same phase, because this can be construed as discrimination against those you randomly select.
- The data you look for, and the results you consider, should have bearing on the actual position being filled; for example, a credit check would make sense for a position handling money, or traffic convictions would make sense for a position that uses an automobile. Be sure the results of these checks would help you determine the fit for that candidate and the position you need filled.
- When the checks uncover disparaging information, present the information to the candidate and allow him or her the opportunity to comment.
In speaking with HR professionals, there are those who perform the criminal background check or credit check, yet regardless of the results they still offer the position (or allow the person to fill that position, if the offer was already given but contingent on the results of these checks). If that is the case, there is good reason to question the expense and time spent to collect this information.
It is NOT accurate to make a blanket statement that those organizations that perform these checks have better selection criteria, or those who choose not to take these steps are being irresponsible in their hiring process. Use what makes sense for you and the position being filled, once all the legal parameters have been researched.