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What are companies allowed to look at when doing a background check? Do recruiters do this before calling for a phone interview?

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Comment by Linda Hertz on February 25, 2014 at 4:26pm

Hello Laura,

Thank you for your Blog Question.  Typically Recruiters do not do any formal background check before we call a candidate.  What we will do at the beginning of our first interview with them is ask them the following questions and tell them they must respond accurately, because IF OFFERED a job, our clients hire a third party agency specializing in background checks and they WILL double check:

  1. Do you have a 4 year college degree (or whatever educational background we are seeking).
  2. Overall GPA (some positions require it)
  3. Have you EVER had a DUI and/or reckless driving incident (even those that have been es-ponged)
  4. How many speeding tickets (moving violations) in the past 5 years
  5. Have you ever been terminated from a job and if so, for what reason (job gaps)

Once we gather the information, we inform them that if they are extended a job offer from our hiring client and if their background check is conflicting with their answers to the above, the offer will be withdrawn.  We also tell them that NOW is the time to confess to any issues on the above answers, because it is better to deal with it now vs. having it be considered an integrity situation after the offer.  In my experience, including when I was a hiring manager, 100% of all job offers were withdrawn due to a conflict between what was stated during the interview process, as well as what was written on the employment application compared to the formal background check.  100% of the time!

I will do some research, but we use to provide third party background checks as part of our retained work in the past.  I will call that company Laura and ask them what companies are allowed to check without getting your signed consent.  Usually a job offer letter will have a signed consent form that you must sign, giving the company permission to gather your background information.  All offers are contingent on a clean report that mirrors exactly the information you placed upon their employment form.

Most of the consents I have viewed require:

  1. A federal background check
  2. Driving History (especially if you are driving your car or a company car to perform the job responsibilities)
  3. College Transcript Permissions that are mailed directly from the college(s) to the hiring company.
  4. Employment records that I understand are pulled from Social Security Records (the type you get in the mail once per year documenting your places of employ and taxable earnings).   
  5. Your financial records can also be requested if you are applying for positions where you are offering financial services (IE; Mortgage Broker, Financial Planner, Certain Bank Positions and etc.)

Thank you for your question and I will see if we can conduct an interview with a company that performs these services to give you more information on the topic and also double check some of the information I provided.

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