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Hiring 101: What to Do When Your Candidate Has a Criminal Record

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We make recruitment, onboarding and employee engagement seamless and intelligent with empathy.

Background verification is one of the most critical aspects of the hiring process. It gives a clear view of an applicant’s present and past.

Today we’ll be looking at a question that many people have but are reluctant to ask out loud: How to respond to a candidate with a criminal record? Should I reject them?

This article will answer your questions. Here, you’ll know everything about criminal records and employment.

The Importance of Employee Background Verification

Conducting background verification for employment purposes is an essential tool for businesses. Background checks can help assist in selecting the best possible candidates for your organization.

Why do you need to conduct background checks?

The #1 reason for conducting background checks is to avoid job fraud.


Image source: SHRM

Background verification plays a crucial role in making better hiring decisions. 84% of employers continue to derive significant benefits from background checks.

How to Check Criminal Record

Criminal record checks are among the most broadly utilized background screening tools, but they also happen to be one of the most complex and misunderstood. The two main categories of crimes include serious crimes and minor crimes. 

As an employer, you must define your company’s values and where to draw the line when screening employees and hiring decisions. Let your candidates know there will be a police check, run that check, and ask during the interview if you feel it necessary.

A person’s criminal history influences an organization’s well-being as well as occupation execution and capability. Suppose you are employing a stock chief who handles stock and assets (the activity requires an elevated level of trust). In that case, it’s essential to check whether the individual has ever been accused of burglary or extortion. 

One thing is sure—criminal record checks are useful in making more sure, educated employing choices. 

Consider using a national crime database checks and local police information. This search is based on the police Records Management Systems, which records police contact cases that might have brought about a conviction. This information includes charges, warrants, peace bonds, prohibition orders, release conditions, probation orders, summary convictions, etc.

Challenges with Criminal Record Checks 

Criminal record checks provide employers with helpful insight into their candidates’ criminal pasts, but it comes along with some inconvenient and troublesome challenges—namely, wait times and costs. 

Each police administration has a different process for directing criminal record checks. Some may just take a couple of days, while others can take weeks or even a long time to deal with a check. Neither employers nor candidates can afford to wait that long.

Sounds like a ton of work! Fortunately. there are some employee background verification tools that can help in reducing background screen turnaround time and provide more comprehensive results than independently conducted searches.

Criminal Record and Employment: How to Proceed When a Candidate Has a Criminal Record

Talk to The Candidate (With Empathy)

Not all arrests lead to a conviction. Having an arrest on their record is not proof of guilt. Though background screening may get on each and every detail from an individual’s past, there may handily be a clarification that doesn’t ponder your candidate’s character inadequately.

We always encourage a conversation between the candidate and the employer to post every check. And if the checks come out with red flags, the conversation is even more warranted. Give the candidates a chance to defend themselves, you may be able to resolve the issue and move forward.

Know Your Legal Rights

Your very first thought when discovering a candidate has a criminal record is your legal standing. As a talent acquisition professional, it bodes well for you to know about the latest government and state legislation surrounding employment.

Prior to making any move against a candidate or employee with a criminal history, you must dig deeper. Looking for employment legal advice might be an excellent way to avoid these issues.

Use Your Own Judgement

Recruiters are expected to find good fits for a role. Does the candidate have good skills? Are they experienced enough? Every one of these things recruiters already have to figure out before they hire a candidate. 

Use your skills of reading candidates and assessing their suitability. A person’s criminal past might inform bad behaviors, but those should be obvious to you regardless of whether you know their history. You’ve tracked down awful applicants previously, correct?

Try not to let your prejudice cost somebody what may be an opportunity to rebuild their life.

Conduct an Individualized Assessment

Conduct an individualized assessment before making final decisions based on criminal records. A few factors you should consider:

  • Additional facts or circumstances surrounding the offense.
  • Age at the time of the offense or the time of release.
  • Work history before and after the offense.
  • Proof that the candidate performed a similar kind of work post-conviction with no known occurrences of criminal direct.
  • Work or character references alongside some other information regarding fitness for the particular position.

Adverse Action

It is a process required when you locate a criminal record (or any other adverse background information) that will disqualify a candidate.

Hiring managers need to give candidates notice before a hiring decision is made, informing them that they might be rejected based on background check results. Using this process, the candidate has a chance to see the background report, challenge any errors in the report, and clear any negative data that is disqualifying them from the job. 

Employers have to send a second notice after a final decision has been made not to hire.

Dispute Process

Do any of your candidates have a criminal record? Provide them an opportunity to dispute the findings of the background check. 

The law gives candidates the right to contact the background screening company to dispute the report’s accuracy. If that happens, the service provider will notify the candidate that a dispute is pending. Some employers delay a final decision until the dispute is resolved.

Also published here.


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