How To Handle Criminal History In The Hiring Process

For many employers, background screenings play a significant role in the hiring process, and a criminal history record check provides key information. Learning that a candidate has a criminal record, however, is not always the end of the story.

Employers often decide to move forward with candidates who have criminal convictions. To hire the best candidates and to ensure that your organization follows the law, what steps should you take after finding that a prospective employee has a criminal record?

Evaluate Candidates Individually

More employers are recognizing that by excluding any candidates with criminal records, they rule out a large pool of potentially exceptional employees. A criminal record report is a valuable piece of information in the hiring process, but it typically should not constitute the sole reason for rejecting an applicant.

As you assess the criminal record report for an employment candidate, consider the following factors:

  1. 1. Time since the conviction. Many people have minor offenses — committed as adolescents, teens or young adults — on their records. Candidates who fulfilled the sentences for offenses long ago may continue to pay the price for their youthful indiscretions. An offense that occurred years ago may not represent the current work ethic or character of the candidate. Consider whether the candidate is a repeat offender or made a one-time mistake.
  2. 2. The type of offense. Evaluate the severity of the crime and how it could impact the work that the candidate will be doing. If you are hiring a financial services professional, for example, a conviction for fraud or embezzlement might be disqualifying. Violent crimes always should be given serious consideration in hiring decisions.
  3. 3. The candidate’s explanation. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recommends that you provide candidates with a chance to explain any criminal charges or convictions. A candidate may give you additional information that can help you make a decision about moving forward.

Follow the Law for Rejections

Assessing candidates individually — despite criminal records — is a sound practice for maintaining a healthy talent pool. Though it also helps you comply with EEOC guidelines, which encourage employers to consider the circumstances surrounding criminal convictions before making hiring decisions.

If you decide not to hire a candidate because of the results of a criminal history record search, federal law requires that you implement the adverse action process that gives candidates sufficient time to dispute any negative information. In addition, employers must avoid discriminatory questions. Further, some jurisdictions do not allow consideration of arrest records in hiring. A professional screening firm can assist you in complying with the law.

Why Is Background Screening Critical to the Hiring Process?

Background screening — including a comprehensive criminal history record search — should play a key role in your hiring process. Bad hires can make your organization vulnerable to costly security breaches, lawsuits for negligent hiring, and damage to your reputation.

Global Verification Network offers thorough searches of reliable, highly accurate sources of data to provide you with the information you need to make good hiring decisions. With the latest information in hand, you can extend offers quickly to exceptional candidates. To get started with the background screening process, please contact Global Verification Network today.