Once upon a time, it could be said that the recruitment process was fairly black and white. Now, all sorts of automated systems have entered the equation, with companies even relying on online background checks to help them along their way.
Up until recently, use of such checks was regarded as completely fine (from a legal standpoint, at least). Over recent times there have been a surge of laws that have come into place though, with many of these placing restrictions on employees over what they can or can’t do to access this people search information. To make matters even more complicated, all of the rules vary by state.
Taking this into account, we have outlined some of the main do’s and don’ts that you should consider if you are about to recruit someone new to your team.
DO tell the potential employee in question
This is already something of a grey area. If you are outsourcing an external company to conduct background checks on an individual, you are required by law to inform the potential employee about the process.
In some areas, the above doesn’t apply if you are doing all of the process yourself. However, a lot of legal experts are suggesting that you do inform them, just to keep everything above board.
DON’T obtain information you are not allowed to
This next point might sound self-explanatory – but only if you are already familiar with the laws surrounding background checks.
In short, you can’t obtain any piece of information that you want. There is only some that you are legally allowed to get. Starting with the negatives, anything related to medical history or family records tends to be out of the question (and it’s for obvious reasons).
However, if you are looking to obtain their employment, criminal or education history, in most states this is completely fine.
What we are trying to say is that you should list everything you want to find out about a candidate, before verifying with the authorities if you are permitted to access this information. A general rule of thumb is that if the information is relevant to the job advert you have posted, it’s completely fine to obtain. Of course, it goes without saying that you should still verify this due to the different nature of laws between states.
DO give the candidate time to respond to the background check
Unsurprisingly, a lot of companies will use these background checks to make a decision on an applicant. There will be occasions where this information is used on its own – potentially without even relying on an interview.
It’s in these cases where the employer must inform them of why they have overlooked them based on this information. The candidate must be given enough time to respond, so that they can verify or even dispute any information that has occurred. There can be some innocent, or different at least, reasons behind some background check information and this is the reason this law exists.