August 11th, 2015 | Sterling

Pre-Employment Screening Before the Job Offer


Do you conduct pre-employment screening before the job offer? Or are you unsure if you should?

While some cities and states might prohibit employers from requesting a background check before they offer the candidate a job, there are also certain employers that are required to do a background check before the job offer. Keep reading to learn more about when you should or should not use pre-employment screening.

When Should You Request a Background Check?

Evaluating the results of an employment background check before the job offer can be a significant part of your hiring decision. From a criminal background check to employment verification, having this information can either affirm or change your mind about a candidate.

While some employers might think that it’s a good idea to request a background check for every candidate that submits a job application, it’s really not to the employer’s advantage. Not only will your company lose out on the cost, but the time your screening company spent on one candidate might have been better spent on someone more qualified.

When you request a background check on your candidate, it probably means you’re ready for the next step—a potential job offer. So, if you haven’t interviewed your candidate yet, it might not be time for the background check.

An additional consideration before pre-employment screening is that you must have a compliant authorization form signed by your candidate. In fact, it is illegal to have a background check done without written consent.

When Shouldn’t You Request a Background Check?

Knowing when you shouldn’t request a background check is even more crucial. Due to ban the box laws in multiple cities and states, employers might be limited when it comes to requesting an employment background check before the job offer. For many of these locations, employers are required to make a conditional offer of employment before they can run a background check.

In addition to certain limitations of when an employer can conduct a background check, these laws also specify whether or not they apply to public and/or private employers. And because of this, certain ban the box laws might not pertain to employment with the government or a school. Due to the highly sensitive nature of jobs in these organizations, they can typically conduct a background check before the job offer.

What Should You Do with the Background Check Results?

Now that you have the results, what should you do?

If everything has been verified and your candidate doesn’t have a criminal record that would affect employment with your company, congratulations! You can make a hiring decision and ultimately, a job offer.

However, if adverse information is found on your candidate’s criminal background check, ensure that your company is following the appropriate state and federal screening laws. It’s a requirement, not an option, to send a pre-adverse and adverse action notification to candidates with a criminal record that would eliminate them from consideration.

Once the candidate receives the pre-adverse action notification, they can choose whether or not to dispute. Depending on the position, some employers will allow additional time for the candidate to resolve any issues with their background check. If the candidate does not dispute the background check results, the employer or third-party will send the adverse action notification to the candidate.

Now that you know when you should or should not use pre-employment screening before the job offer, learn more about how to keep your company’s screening program in compliance with our guide, Keep It Legal: 5 Steps to Compliance When Your Candidate Has a Criminal Record.

Sterling is not a law firm. This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.