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A Job Applicant’s Background Check Shows a Criminal Record. What Should You Do?

Background screening is one of the most important parts of the hiring process. Without transparency, there can be no trust, and background checks give a clear view of an applicant’s past. What happens, however, when that past isn’t everything you want it to be? What do you do about a promising candidate with a criminal record? Here are some points you should consider before making a decision.

You can’t reject every candidate with a criminal record.

Your very first consideration when discovering a candidate has a criminal background is your legal standing. Though federal anti-discrimination law does not directly protect those with criminal records, you may still find yourself at risk for anti-discrimination lawsuits if you reject all such applicants offhand. In case after case, plaintiffs have successfully argued that these “bright line” hiring policies are in direct conflict with anti-discrimination laws. The answer is clear: Before taking any action against an applicant or employee with a criminal history, you must dig deeper.


Should you be worried about candidates with a criminal record?

Legal issues aside, there are practical reasons why you should look deeper before rejecting a candidate with a questionable past. For example:

Not all arrests lead to a conviction

Having an arrest on your record is not proof of guilt. Far from it, in fact. Though background screening may pick up on every little detail from a person’s past, there may easily be an explanation that does not reflect poorly on your candidate’s character.

Not all convictions imply guilt

Even if we ignore blatantly wrongful convictions, over 90 percent of state and federal cases end in a plea bargain. In fact, many innocent defendants plead guilty (and, therefore, never get to defend themselves before a jury) merely to avoid prolonged trials, lawyer’s fees, or the risk of a heavy sentence.

Does the crime impact their ability to perform their job?

It’s equally important to consider the nature of the conviction. Many minor convictions may only reflect a small lapse in judgment in one specific area rather than a major fault in character. A common example is that of a candidate’s poor driving record; if an applicant will not be driving as part of their regular workload, there might be no reason to consider this as a mark against them. Similarly, it’s always best to consider both the nature of the job and the nature of the accusation before moving forward.


Always talk to the candidate about their background check results.

One of the only ways to get to the bottom of these issues is to speak directly to the candidate about their background screening results. After all, if they made it this far in the hiring process, they definitely have some qualities that you’d like to keep around. Don’t let the background check have the last word. If you give the candidate a chance to defend themselves, you may be able to resolve the issue and move forward.

To get the most out of your background screening process, it’s important to partner with a screening company that provides the support that you need to make the right hiring decisions. At Chane Solutions, we understand how crucial accurate information is to the hiring process, and we promise to work with you to guarantee great results. To learn more about our comprehensive and flexible background screening services, contact one of our representatives today.



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