employer wouldn’t interview me unless I authorized an invasive background check before we even talked

A reader writes:

I recently was invited for an in-person office manager interview with a large, non-finance company in the private sector. I was genuinely interested in the company, but I was surprised when I arrived for the interview and was asked to fill out an application that requested my social security number and date of birth. I left the field blank but then turned the page to find several authorizations to perform a credit check, criminal background, motor vehicle and reference checks.

I had not yet met the hiring manager, nor was I clear on the job description. When I met the hiring manager, she immediately asked me to consent to the screening. I mentioned I was not comfortable proceeding with the extensive screening process until I understood the position and company better. The manager generally answered a couple of my questions about the company, but she did not ask me any interview questions and indicated that a formal “interview” would not occur without my consent to the screening. I was caught off-guard and did my best (which, admittedly, was not great) to explain to her that I was uncomfortable disclosing the information at the time, and she politely ushered me out the door.

My understanding is that, while California is not a “ban the box” state, and the city where the company is located is not either, best practices are to present an offer, or, at a minimum, seriously consider a candidate prior to conducting background screenings. Aside from possibly jeopardizing my current position by checking references prior to an interview, I have some concerns about giving my age and credit report to an employer I am still evaluating. This raised some red flags with me since it seemed they were not interested in me as a candidate until they obtained sensitive, and possibly non-job related, information about me.

Was I right to be concerned about this company’s hiring process? Am I correct that it would not be advisable to give my personal information to a potential employer prior to an interview?

Ugh. Your concerns are totally reasonable.

Unfortunately, though, it’s become increasingly common for employers to ask for all this information up-front. It’s not because they’re going to use it up-front (generally); it would a be a waste of time and money for them to do background checks on all candidates at this stage. They ask for it early because it streamlines their process later; once you’re a finalist and they want to move forward with a background check, it’s easier for them if they already have the information on hand and don’t have to ask you for it. It’s similar to companies that ask for references up-front; it’s rare that they’ll use them until much later in the process, but they ask for them early so that they have them on-hand when they’re ready for them. Both things understandably make candidates uncomfortable.

Some employers will be fine with you saying something like, “I’d be glad to fill out this form after we have an initial conversation and determine that there’s mutual interest in moving forward, but I’d prefer to do that before authorizing the release of so much personal information.”

Others, like the one you talked with, won’t — although that interviewer sounds particularly rigid.

Ultimately, though, you may just need to decide whether you’re willing to subject yourself to overly invasive demands in order to be considered for the job. Which sucks, but is also very much the reality of job-hunting these days.

{ 341 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Snarkus Aurelius

    Plus given how Sony was deliberately careless (to the point of bragging) about not safeguarding employees’ sensitive personal information, I’d be doubly suspicious of giving out my information to a company I wasn’t (yet) familiar with.

    If you’re asking me for this information, I want to know how you’ll use it, how you’ll store it, if it’s encrypted, how it’s discarded, and contingency plans if there’s a breach. If they don’t know or won’t answer, that’s a huge red flag in addition to violating federal law (Sarbanes/Oxley) if they’re publicly traded.

    Signed,
    A victim of the Anthem and OPM breaches

    Reply
    1. fposte

      I was thinking about this; while it’s a problem for a candidate to ask these reasonable questions, why don’t companies have something prepared to hand out that covers all that? It’s pretty standard in industries like finance anyway, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up being legally required for employers who wish to do such checks.

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      1. UKAnon

        Does the USA not have something in place already? I guess because we have the Data Protection Act I’d always assumed that was standard and America would have it too.

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        1. Snarkus Aurelius

          I’m following the Sony class action lawsuit, which a judge greenlighted yesterday, and I haven’t seen such a law cited.

          The only thing I saw was S/O violations that the IT Security guy was publicly bragging about violating.

          Any IT law people in the US around?

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          1. ITPuffNStuff

            not an attorney, but i do have basic familiarity with what the law requires.

            sadly, i think most companies are violating at least one, and often several, legal IT security requirements. the reality is that meeting all requirements is expensive, and c-level execs have to approve those expenses. when the case for approval is ‘we have to do this because if we don’t, and there is a breach, and we get caught, it could cost us a lot of money, and damage relationships, and expose people to ID theft’ just isn’t a convincing argument to c-level management. they want to see ‘how is this going to bring us more revenue?”. IT security doesn’t bring revenue; it protects revenue earned through selling products and services. if it doesn’t bring revenue, the c-levels just don’t care most of the time.

            sadly, they will even create policies which employees have to sign as a condition of remaining employed, but the policies require them to employ security measures that don’t exist and the company won’t pay for. in essence, it becomes ‘sign this paper agreeing to do something we know you can’t do, or lose your job’. it’s not about creating security, it’s about creating a scapegoat for the eventual breach.

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        2. Anonsie

          Can’t say I’ve ever seen anything like it except with medical practices, but that’s because of our laws about how your healthcare provider use your medical and personal information and it only applies to them (and related groups like, say, insurers and labs). Wouldn’t apply in this situation.

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          1. Original Poster

            In general, companies are supposed to explain how credit checks relate to the position, and the way in which criminal background information can be used in similarly limited, which is why most companies wait until candidates are finalists for a position or limit how much information they collect.

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            1. Anonsie

              The check process yes. But just how they’re going to keep/protect/discard the associated personal information necessary to do that, no.

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        3. Mike C.

          BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA

          Don’t you see? Such laws would make it harder and more expensive for Small Business Owners ™ to hire employees vital to their own growth. Much in the same way basic environmental laws make it harder for me to simply dump toxic waste out back behind an elementary school.

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          1. Three Thousand

            And the way Small Business Owners ™ shouldn’t have to pay their employees a living wage because it would hinder their growth. It’s so nice to see that corporate bigwigs care so much about small businesses when they can use them as shields.

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    2. Natalie

      Yes, this is what bothers me the most about this kind of practice. I’m sure that most of the companies don’t intend to use it. But the risk-benefit just doesn’t add up. If you interview, say, 5 people for a position and collect this information up front, but only hire one, you’re holding 4 people’s information for no reason. If your database is breached and that information is compromised, was it worth it to save you some kind of inconvenience? I don’t think so, personally.

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      1. Snarkus Aurelius

        This, this, this.

        This is what employers do not understand. When you receive sensitive information, you are responsible from that moment on even if you don’t hire the person or you file Chapter 11.

        Taking your example, which is probably common, the employer is literally multiplying his risk by five every time he hires someone. That’s misguided and foolish.

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        1. Rat Racer

          I heard a statistic on NPR yesterday though saying that something like 80-85% of social security numbers in the US have been stolen. The source was actually Verizon, who appears to be the only entity (public or private) tracking this. Makes me question what good an SSN is as a source of identification.

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            1. Anx

              And I would think it was so deliberately not meant to be a form of ID, since it’s pretty much the only thing written on the card, other than don’t laminate and fold.

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          1. Apollo Warbucks

            The UK equivalent so a SSN is a national insurance (NI) number and the card says on it that it is not proof of ID.

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      2. Apollo Warbucks

        Under UK law personal data can not be kept for longer than is necessary for the purpose for which it was collected so companies would have to be pretty quick to discard the data of rejected candidates.

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        1. Natalie

          Unfortunately I’m not sure we have a similar law. From what I understand, law (or maybe best practice?) requires applications be kept on file for 1-2 years in case of possible discrimination claims. It wouldn’t surprise me to find out that this information is being kept with the applications.

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        2. Elizabeth West

          Under US law, which is meaningless these days, corporations routinely ignore laws and screw up anyway and barely get their wrists slapped, so I would never give a company this information unless they’ve made me an offer.

          I’d love to say nicely as I was leaving this interview, “Thank you for your time. I don’t think your company is a good fit for me.” >:)

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        3. Chinook

          “Under UK law personal data can not be kept for longer than is necessary for the purpose for which it was collected so companies would have to be pretty quick to discard the data of rejected candidates.”

          Ditto for Canadian law, which just makes things difficult and confusing when you are a subsidiary of an American company (because then the head office doesn’t always understand why we ask the questions Snarkus Aurelius mentions or why we are angry when we don’t get a prompt answer or why we push back when they ask us to collect client and/or vendor information we shouldn’t be collecting.)

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      3. Lizabeth

        It just hit me that you can have some sort of document stating that the sensitive information will be kept securely, yadda yadda and state what the consequences will be if your information is indeed breached/hacked/stolen by current employees, including any monetary compensation and have THEM sign that document in return for your information for all the checks?

        I’d pay money to see the look on that interviewer’s face if they were asked to sign something in return.

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        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          The problem is that while it’s actually a totally reasonable thing to do, it will make you come off as weird and high-maintenance, simply because no one else does it.

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          1. Lizabeth

            Given how easy it is to hack someone these days, I think it’s worth a try. Plus the added bonus of watching their face in reaction :) But that’s just me…tilting at windmills can be fun sometimes.

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            1. BRR

              I think it’s a great way to take yourself out of the running. Don’t get me wrong I think company’s ask for WAY TOO MUCH information up front.

              Frankly I think they need a cover letter and a resume. Possibly something supplementary based on the position. They can ask for references if you’re a finalist and do a background check with a pending offer.

              I understand how an ATS helps to keep things organized but I feel it should ask for name, contact info, and a place to attach your materials.

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              1. Retail Lifer

                Seriously. As a hiring manager who is also a current job seeker, I KNOW that’s all that’s needed up front. That’s all anyone needs to determine if they want to talk to you or not.

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              2. Lizabeth

                Granted, it is taking me out of the running but I ask myself “do I really want to work at place with these type of practices?” and 95% of the time answer “no”. So treating them the same way they are treating me isn’t a question at all, and maybe, just maybe, if it’s handled right the process may change.

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                1. BRR

                  There are times though when that’s an indicator of the manager and workplace and there are times when it’s just some policy. My current employer only has a moderately intrusive ATS (i.e. it doesn’t ask for your first born) and not only is it not indicative of my team and department’s environment, it’s not even representative of the organization as a whole.

                  But with a hiring manager like this, then it’s appropriate to ask that question and you’re likely to dodge a bullet. My guess is more and more companies are going to use ATS and I can also see somebody dumb setting it up and nobody reexamining what information is asked for.

                2. Ask a Manager Post author

                  It’s reasonable to say “I’d prefer to wait until later in the process to fill this out.”

                  It’s not going to be seen as reasonable to hand them your own document with rules for them on it.

                  I’m not saying that’s fair. But it’s the reality.

        2. Apollo Warbucks

          Again the UK data protection act puts the onus on the company collecting the data to provide a statement to people who they collect data from explaining what they are collecting, how they are using it and who is ultimately responsible for the data.

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        3. ChelseaNH

          Another way to get the point across is to ask them for a copy of their information security policy “so I know how this information will be handled.”

          Reply
      4. Original Poster

        Agreed, and from a job seeker’s perspective, I do not want to be disseminating my personal information until I understand how a company intends to use it!

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      5. Stephanie

        That also just seems like so much extra work and possibly cost (I’m sure the background check companies aren’t running these out the kindness of their hearts).

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      6. SevenSixOne

        Many companies don’t just collect it from everyone they INTERVIEW, they collect it from everyone who APPLIES. It’s not uncommon for my company to collect 100+ applications for a single position.

        When OldJob transitioned to online applications, they decided they’d just store them in the intranet… forever. In the beginning, only management knew how to find them, but once word got out there was no effort to make the application database more secure. The intranet didn’t have a link to the applications database, but it was about as well-hidden as intranet.oldjob.com/applications. I knew plenty of employees who’d just surf the application bank for funzies. Since then, I’ve been extremely cautious about how much info I put on an application, since there’s no way of knowing who can see it of for how long.

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        1. Natalie

          Funnily, I originally wrote 100 applicants, and then I decided that probably wasn’t being fair to employers. “Surely they’re only asking for interviewees to fill these out,” I told myself. “Let’s scale this back, more like 5.”

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        2. Apollo Warbucks

          Even if the applications aren’t that secure which they absoultly should be there’s ethical considerations that should stop people looking at this data and definently company policy to prevent it and surely there’s some legal issues as well.

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          1. SevenSixOne

            yeah, and the higer-ups at the company really should have known better– this isn’t some small operation, it’s the flagship business of a company owned by a Ted Turner-esque Prominent Local Billionaire.

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        3. No Longer Passing By

          This is absolutely frightening. And that database also had particularly sensitive information such as address and social security numbers?

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          1. SevenSixOne

            No social security numbers, but it had a ton of other personal info– full legal name, current address +previous address if they’d been at their current address less than 2 years, email, phone, 5-10 years of work and salary history… AND the name, address, and current employer for 3-5 references per application.

            (I know this because I was a manager, not because I was a recreational application reader.)

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    3. Original Poster

      I agree. I feel very insecure about handing an application with my social security number on it to a receptionist, let alone a hiring manager I haven’t met.

      There are already strict limits on the use of background checks in the hiring process, so why subject your organization to the potential for a breach in security by collecting this information from all candidates? Additionally, my understanding of the already limited application of credit checks is that the company is obligated to explain how the credit check is related to the position, even when a credit check is permissible under the law.

      From a job seeker’s perspective, it would be very unwise to hand over all of this information at every interview. Theoretically, I could be leaving my social security number at companies all over town. To me, it seems like this is the last step in the hiring process, when both the company and I are considering moving forward with an offer, and I have some confidence in how the organization will use this information.

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      1. Natalie

        I was once clearing out my office’s old files, and came across a folder full of parking pass records. For some reason, they had been requiring people to provide their SSN to get a flipping hang tag to put in their car so they could park in the lot. WHY??? (And why wasn’t it locked up and also why wasn’t it marked to shred?)

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        1. Natalie

          I should clarify, we (the landlord) were asking tenant’s employees to provide their SSN. It’s not like we had that information on file already in our HR records.

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          1. Original Poster

            Now that’s bizarre. I could see maybe getting a license plate or VIN number, but how is a SSN related to parking?

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        2. ThursdaysGeek

          Your phrase ‘old files’ is the reason why. Because a SSN used to be an easy ID number (even though it wasn’t supposed to be used that way), and there wasn’t anything like identity theft.

          My college used our SSN as an identifier, and test results were displayed by SSN instead of name. I’ve been asked for a SSN before making an account to check out videos (I refused, because by then I knew better).

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    4. Adam

      Yep, fraud is a very real deal these days forking over that sort of information when you barely know anything about the company you are well within your right to feel skeevy about. Just a few weeks ago my debit card had a mystery charge of $84 to some travel agency in Beijing (which I am about half a world away from). I’ve been pretty boring in my spending habits lately so how they got a hold of my info I have no idea. I’m just lucky that I happened to be checking my bank account the morning said “transaction” appeared on it.

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      1. Helka

        It’s possible they got it via RNG. Some scammers just have a computer that spits out randomly-generated numbers that match the basic validity checks (the BIN references a real issuing institution, the checkdigit passes muster, that kind of thing)

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      1. Dan

        I only the skim the headlines most of the time — which breach got that data?

        And holy crap. For those who don’t know the reference, that form is for security clearances and literally covers everything about your life within the last 7 years.

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        1. Katie the Fed

          OPM is saying that all SF-86s from the last 20+ years, for current, prospective, and former employees, were compromised. It’s really bad.

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          1. Chrissi

            I immediately went to my bank and signed up for their ID theft protection, which I’d been putting off for a couple of years. I also got the email offering me the ID protection that OPM arranged, but it’s only for 18 months, and this way I won’t let it expire and forget about it again. And it’s only $6/month w/ my bank, so it’s well worth it.

            Do you know how long ago this was hacked? I thought I read something that said they’d had access to the server for an entire year!

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          1. Nerdling

            If you’ve continued in service, for many of us, we have to re-up and fill out a new form every 5 years. If we’ve moved, we’ve potentially added to the number of people affected, every five years. It’s a NIGHTMARE.

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            1. Brooke

              Yep. I haven’t hit that five year mark yet but it can’t be worse than the first time around. (Or so I hope.)

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          1. BRR

            Ugh I’m sorry. That sucks. I thought of you when I read that story. And will anybody learn a lesson in collecting superfluous data? I’m going with no.

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    5. Not Today Satan

      It really frightens me to think about all the employers who have my SSN–the vast, vast majority of whom I never even did a phone screen with.

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    6. Anonylicious

      Yeah, both of those breaches got me, too. And my PII has been lost by the VA, the Reserves, my home state, and who knows who else.

      My social security number has a more active social life than I do. :|

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    7. Stephanie

      I’ve had enough PPI compromised in the last few years that I’ve had the conciliatory “Oops, we fucked up, sorry! Don’t sue us!” free credit monitoring continuously for the last six or seven years. First it was my old intern employer and then it was a different federal breach.

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      1. Nina

        I had the same thing with my university. Apparently, there was a hard drive laying around that was supposed to have been wiped/destroyed and it never was. So I got a year of free credit counseling, then on another occasion when a store’s info got hacked. The first time was really alarming to me, but now it’s just “Eh.”

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    8. Nerdling

      Amen! So many of my colleagues have just had to notify all the people involved in their own hiring background investigations that I would seriously consider presenting that as a counterargument to a potential employer asking me for that information. “I’m sorry, but in light of multiple recent data breaches, I’m not comfortable providing that information about myself or others at this point in the process.”

      Reply
  2. Swarley

    It sounds like you dodged a bullet, OP. This type of rigidity is usually indicative of other more rigid and nonsensical practices.

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    1. Original Poster

      I wondered that, as well. I did some digging on other forums and have heard some people report that it’s not necessarily indicative of a company culture, but I find that difficult to swallow. If I can’t have a conversation with the hiring manager until I consent to a near-government-level screening, I think it likely foreshadows a culture I am not necessarily interested in.

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        1. Melissa

          Same, although for me it was at an agency that provided social services for children. Not only were there children and families in and out of the building all day meeting with social workers, it was a part-time research job that involved visiting families in their homes for interviews and handling their sensitive HIPAA data. And even then, they didn’t ask me for background check information until I was a finalist for the position – one of 2 – and they explained to me the reasons why it was necessary before they asked me to sign.

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      1. The Cosmic Avenger

        Oh, I’d say it’s pretty indicative of the company culture. Here, employees are constantly questioning/suggesting process improvements, even in areas that don’t affect them. If this practice somehow got started here (although for the life of me I can’t imagine how), it would be shot down immediately as ridiculously intrusive and unnecessary.

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      2. Elsajeni

        Yeah, I don’t know about that. I would say that it certainly tells you something about some aspect of the culture; the only question is whether it’s the overall company culture, the department culture, or both. It sounds like the hiring manager’s reaction has ruled out the possibility of “super-rigid company policy, managers at the department level who know better and will try to shield their people from its lunacy”; it could still be something like “super-rigid departmental manager, overarching company culture is more relaxed and normal,” but in that case you’re still getting valuable information about 1) the kind of department you’d be working in and 2) the fact that no one above that department has stepped in to say “Uh, Bob, you need to ease up a little on this.”

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  3. Rae

    In this growing time of fraud, I would be clear with the employer, you don’t share your SSN until some kind of contract is in place, or at the very least potential of an employment contract.

    That said, so many jobs now require verification of everything because of fraud in other areas. Checking for American citizenship or work visa may actually now be done before the interview because the liability is not worth it to even have that person enter the building. In one company I worked for the “checksafe” service was run on every applicant and applicants had to be physically out of the building when we sent the document. This was for a company that was retail!

    It’s alot to balance. Those concerned about their SSID would leave it off and provide a passport as ID rather than license.

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    1. Job-Hunt Newbie

      Yeppp. I wasn’t asked for my SSN until I had verbally accepted, and even then I was not asked to give it over email/fax it over. You cannot be too careful with that kind of information, and I would not hand it out to just anyone who asked. Especially with a company that I may never have ties with.

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    2. Annon for this

      I am so paranoid that I gave my cable company my license number instead of my SSN. I had a 5 minute conversation with the CSR saying I was not comfortable with giving them my SSN. They insisted, so I gave them my license number. Three years later no one has noticed, but I am sure that is some kind of fraud. But, yeah…I am that paranoid. I never thought about my passport number.

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    3. Curt

      This is a strange comment “Checking for American Citizenship”? Really? How many millions of our jobs have gone over seas to 3rd world countries who now have all Americans personal and private information… Sorry, but asking for this information for any job is ridiculous, destructive and deceptive. ID Theft is and has been the #1 growing crime in the world for well over 15 years. Ever since our “Govt” decided to setup “Free Trade”.. Its gotten so bad that Car Dealerships are now doing Terrorist Background Checks on EVERYONE that buys a car!! Without their consent or knowledge!! I know… I used to have to do it…

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  4. Retail Lifer

    This is really common in my industry. Every company I’ve ever worked for (and almost every one that I have interviewd with in my current job hunt) has asked for that information up front. All of the companies that I’ve done the hiring for have included this as part of the application process but we didn’t use any of that information until we had identified the candidate we wanted to make the offer to. Then we just submitted it for that one candidate. The rest was kept “on file” with varying degrees of security.

    In retail anyway, most applications are done online and this is part of the application process. If you don’t submit that info your application ITSELF won’t be submitted. I completely agree that it’s unncessary to ask for such personal info at that point in the process, but you often can’t avoid it.

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    1. Original Poster

      Wow; that certainly runs contrary to common sense and best practices! As an Office Manager, I have been on the hiring side, and I never collect social security numbers until a verbal offer of employment has been accepted, and, most of the time, the candidate starts on a contingency basis pending the background and reference check. I find it reduces both privacy concerns, as well as any potential discrimination claims. It also forces me to justify employment decisions based on any results from the criminal background.

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  5. T3k

    It’s an iffy situation. More and more job applications ask for a SSN, including large retail stores with their online applications. If I can, I leave it off until I’ve met with the company a few times, and even then, I’d try to avoid giving it until an offer is given. Also, I space out the free credit reports from the 3 groups over a year to try and catch anything ASAP.

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    1. Not helpful

      Local grocery chain won’t let you into their application system at all without a social security number. You select a specific store and then give the information. The required sections are first and last name and social security number. You can’t see any information about openings without signing in. And I don’t know what you have to do to apply to multiple locations (separate access?). Where I live there are 5 locations it would be reasonable to work at.

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      1. Retail Lifer

        Same with every retail company. You can’t move forward with the application until you’ve entered all of the required info, and that’s always required.

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        1. Anx

          My favorite part is that if you want to reapply to a company with a fresh application (whether you had technical issues with an old one, you can’t retrieve your password, you’ve changed quite a bit since the last time), you can’t start over.

          Only one application per SSN.

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      2. T3k

        Wow, that really sucks. I’ve only come across a few online applications where it wouldn’t let me move on without the SSN (and if they did, I’d promptly quit the application process as it wasn’t worth it to me).

        As for applying to other locations, I don’t know how that grocery store does it, but I know one art store chain I applied to, even if you apply to one location, it sends your application out to others in the area (only reason I know this is because I got a call from one of their stores 30 mins. away and I asked how they got my application when I applied to a store 5 mins. away instead).

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        1. Retail Lifer

          I wish I had the option to quit the application process whan asked for invasive info, but that would cut my already slimprosepcts down to about zero.

          And yeah, retail stores can often access applications submitted to other stores in the area. It usually happens when one store has an open position but didn’t get any decent applicants, so they poach from other “near by” stores. Yes, I would love to work at the store that’s 15 minutes from my house. No, I don’t want to work at the one that’s an hour away.

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    2. Allison

      This is essentially how I memorized my social security number, by typing it into/writing it on nearly a hundred job applications in my late teens and early 20’s.

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    3. JMegan

      Could you enter 999-99-9999 for your SSN, just to get around the requirement? That doesn’t get around the fact that the requirement itself is ridiculous, of course, but it’s worth a try if it lets you in to something you wouldn’t otherwise be able to access.

      I have a hunch that most employers haven’t fully thought through their requirements in this area. So when they’re setting up the ATS and see that SSN is an available field, they think “hey, let’s throw it in there!” rather than taking the time to figure out if they actually need it or not.

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    1. CAinUK

      +1

      And if I was the poor HR person on the other side of the table having to request this info b/c of a stupid policy, I’d probs give you bonus points for that response and move you to the shortlist.

      Reply
  6. AGirlCalledFriday

    I get so frustrated with this theme: “Company/Interviewer/Employer does X thing that’s invasive and uncomfortable, but unfortunately that’s the way the hiring is sometimes done these days.” I totally understand that not everyone acts this way and that candidates can self-select out…and that it’s more a reflection of the times than anything else. Still, I personally dream of a time when candidates have much more power and companies streamline their processes to be more fair and comfortable for all.

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    1. Retail Lifer

      I’m actively job hunting and would have been able to apply to maybe two jobs so far (out of at least 75) without providing that information up front. The online applications all ask for it and you can’t proceed entering it.

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      1. Melissa

        That’s interesting, because I’m actively hunting too and I have yet to have to provide my SSN or DOB, even on systems that have applications.

        Reply
    2. BRR

      And some people don’t have the luxury of self-selecting out. I applied to a job last week where they wanted my current supervisor’s phone number and it was mandatory. They of course gave the question of asking as to whether they were able to contact her but I didn’t even feel I could put all 0s or 5s because her number is public.

      Reply
    3. Original Poster

      I’m a fan of the mutual selection process. I’ve been fortunate enough to make career moves while still employed, so I feel like the interview process works both ways–it’s a chance for me to evaluate the company, culture and leadership while they are evaluating my skills and fit for the position. I bristle a bit when the assumption is that I have some obligation to provide more information than the employer before I’ve been given a chance to understand the organization.

      Reply
      1. Lizabeth

        I think a “lot” of companies have forgotten that it is a two-way street when you’re looking to hire someone.

        Reply
        1. BRR

          My husband was just offered a job by a company that completely didn’t court him. If he wasn’t working for minimum wage, this job didn’t quadruple his salary, and was getting more responses to his applications he might have passed.

          I’m now going to vent about it so just ignore me.

          The posting was on the company’s site as a regular full-time job, at the end of the interview they’re like, “oh yeah btw it’s temp to hire bye.” Gets asked several weeks later by email if he’s still interested (3 sentence email). He says yes enthusiastically. Somebody else emails him that he will hear from the temp agency (no details like the salary). Gets an offer from the temp agency by email (salary buried in the back of one of nine attachments). He asks a couple questions about the offer including any timeline or achievements he needs to be made permanent, they don’t have any. Has to drive 20 min each way to do an I9 (closest place). Next day gets an email they’re going through a different temp agency and he will need to fill out a new set of paperwork and will need to push back his starting date a week (which means a week of good salary). He’s politely pushed back about the starting date and it’s now being decided. No phone call, no excitement from them, and no reference check from them (their own fault on that one).

          Reply
          1. Meg Murry

            Ugh, I am amazed at how many temp-to-hire (or temp-forever but pretend to be temp-to-hire) places bury the “and this is how much we are going to pay you” aspect when they offer you a job, and make you practically pry it out of them. Congratulations, we are offering you a job, fill out these 10 reams of paperwork and show up tomorrow [or at some unspecified date in the future but we won’t let you know what it is until a few days before]! Um, that’s great but exactly how much am I getting paid for this gig?

            Reply
            1. BRR

              The entire thing has left such an awful taste in both of our mouths. The first email thanked him for his patience but besides that they have not tried to win him over as a candidate. We’re not asking for much but this is like holy shit.

              Reply
        2. AGirlCalledFriday

          But I think that *in this economy* it has become less of a 2-way street, for a LOT of people. There are thousands of under- and unemployed people who are willing to take or do anything for the chance at a job.

          Reply
          1. Anx

            Yeah. The ‘two-way’ street is probably the best approach to find the best match between employer and employee, but mathematically it just isn’t.

            Reply
    4. Mike C.

      Call your elected representatives and tell them you think this sucks and should be regulated. Local, state, federal, whatever. Also make sure you’re a registered voter who votes. That’s how things change.

      Reply
      1. AGirlCalledFriday

        It’s something to do, but I really don’t think anything will change unless it becomes desirable for companies to not put people off by doing it. Right now it’s an employer’s market, and they CAN get away with pretty much anything because a lot of people are desperate right now. As soon as that changes, just watch how fast they drop these invasive systems.

        Reply
        1. Original Poster

          I agree with Mike C. Prior to this experience, I wasn’t even aware this was a prevalent issue, so it’s certainly worth contacting your representative.

          Reply
  7. Apollo Warbucks

    This type of thing is crazy there is no good reason to collect that information just in case you need it, and I’m not liking the fact that a very reasonable question got you shown the door. It’s not how a decent functioning work place runs you should be able to raise genuine concerns and have a sensible discussion about the issues concerning you.

    Reply
    1. Sospeso

      This! I feel for the OP here. It can be disappointing to be excited about a job, only to realize that they’re taking a hard line about something you also feel strongly about (just protecting your personal sensitive information… NBD). I’d chalk this up as learning something about the company’s way of doing things without even getting to the formal interview stage. I’d also wonder if that rigidity extends to other aspects of the company. Eesh.

      Reply
    2. BRR

      Answering these questions should not determine a candidates chances.

      I wonder how the follow up goes? “She wouldn’t give us her SSN up front, we don’t’ want people like her working her anyways.”

      Reply
      1. Original Poster

        I did have some concerns about what might have been said about me when I left. However, I agree with Sospeso and others that this kind of inflexibility meant that the position likely wasn’t the right fit for me, anyway.

        Reply
        1. BRR

          As I mentioned somewhere on here, the policy is likely beyond the hiring manager (unless it was an HR position), their behavior though was a red flag to me.

          Reply
  8. Malissa

    This is awful. Especially since the Federal Government gives you the option to opt out of giving your SS number until further in the interview process.
    That said no matter what it really is a good idea to keep your eye on your credit score and your social security account. Creditkarma allows you to view both your Transunion and Equifax credit reports for free. They are also very good about emailing you every time a credit inquiry hits. Also many credit cards are offering up free access to your FICO score as a benefit.

    Reply
    1. Original Poster

      Good point. I haven’t run my credit since last year (although it was excellent at the time!) I guess if I want to continue search, I should make sure to stay on top of it.

      I had thought the days of running credit checks on candidates were over, based on the very narrow applications of using credit checks in the hiring process, but apparently I was wrong.

      Reply
    2. Natalie

      PSA: you don’t need to go through Credit Karma or any other third party site to view your credit report. Federal law requires the three big bureaus (Equifax, Transunion, and Experian) to provide you one report a year for free.

      Reply
        1. Natalie

          That’s correct. A credit score is considered proprietary information of whomever generated it, because it’s the result of some kind of analysis. One of the most commonly used credit scores is FICO, but there are many others.

          Your credit report is just narrative information about you, the person, which is why you have a right to see it. And, fraud wise, what you want to see is your credit report. If you already have a bad credit score, someone could be using your identity and you might not notice because your score is already bad. Alternatively, someone could have used your identity but be making sufficient payments to keep your score high, yet planning on defaulting later.

          The only time your credit score should affect your life is if you are applying for a credit card or taking out a loan of some kind.

          Reply
    3. Dana

      I have a Slate card with Chase and am able to access my FICO score. It’s a pretty awesome perk that I’m glad they introduced. I also get some sort of score sent to me every six months when my auto insurance renews…it’s about 100 points off from the FICO one I just saw, so it might just be a “credit score” that they concocted, but still helpful.

      Reply
      1. BRR

        That’s great about the FICO score but it’s helpful to see your actual report. I had a classmate discover somebody had taken a card out in his name but paid it off regularly (WTF?).

        Reply
        1. Chrissi

          I have a coworker that had the same thing happen to him! He said it’s helping his credit score, so he hasn’t reported it :) Just keeps an eye on it.

          Reply
        2. Natalie

          Illegal immigrant, maybe? You’d want to keep the card paid off for moral and practical reasons (less likely you’d get caught).

          Reply
      2. Witty Nickname

        Different entities use different criteria for determining your credit score. My FICO score that I see from my credit card company is higher than the score my credit union determined when I applied for my car loan. It all just depends on what they count and how heavily they weigh each item on your credit report.

        Reply
        1. Stephanie

          Indeed. It is funny when I present my debit or credit card and the cashier’s like “What branch?” or “Thank you for your service!” I sheepishly am like “Uh, my dad was in the army. I just bum off the eligibility.”

          Reply
          1. bridget

            I’m even farther removed – my grandfather-in-law was a Colonel like, 35 years ago, but I have USAA. Usually I hope people don’t notice because I’m totally just mooching.

            Reply
  9. the_scientist

    As someone who works with PHI (personal health information) I am positively inundated with lectures, policies, and reminders about the importance of keeping this information confidential- and our databases are set up to ensure maximum security, and that you only have access to the information you need, and no more. The type of database architecture required to maintain this level of security (not to mention the legal and privacy hoops to jump through to even *get* the data) are so intense that there are two entire departments at my company that do nothing but this stuff, day in, day out. I very much doubt that a company that is collecting this information from job candidates is doing more than the very bare minimum (if that) to protect the privacy of people they have no more than a passing acquaintance with.

    Also, my Canadian bias is showing here, but the idea of having to pass a credit check and a background check (and heaven forbid a drug test) as part of a routine application process is absolutely appalling to me. It’s all so very invasive.

    Reply
    1. Retail Lifer

      All three are usually required for every job I apply to, but at least the drug test comes later. The backgound check and credit check info have to be submitted with each application, but luckily there’s no way to ask for a pee sample with each app. Not yet anyway.

      Reply
    2. dancer

      I think that’s pretty industry dependant. I’m Canadian and I had to pass background checks for a few of my job applications. At any rate, I believe it isn’t uncommon for people in my position.

      Reply
      1. the_scientist

        Sure, but those are specific to particular positions; in the US it seems to be a requirement for basically every job. I’ve certainly had to do vulnerable sector screens, but it’s always after a job offer has been made and it’s because of the nature of the role.

        Reply
        1. dancer

          Ah I see. I’ve done them both before and after. I seemed like the bigger companies asked for that information upfront, while the smaller ones only asked after an offer.

          Reply
        2. dancer

          Sorry, I hit enter too quickly. And I agree that background checks should be dependent on the nature of the role.

          Reply
        3. Cautionary tail

          In my industry this is standard because we deal with highly sensitive critical infrastructure. Although the information won’t be used unless you get selected for hiring, we’d rather people with questionable backgrounds self-select out of the process even before it begins rather than go all the way through and have us possibly rescind the offer. It’s not a perfect system and people who have consented to doing all the background checks have been given conditional offers, only to have the offer yanked when the results of the checks came back; two so far this year come to mind.

          This reminds me of when I rented apartments and I asked people to consent to credit checks so I could get a reasonable picture of their ability to pay the rent. I’d tell people it would cost them $x for the credit check and they could walk away before paying with no issues because if there was something I was going to see it anyway. So many people said they had squeaky clean backgrounds but when the credit check came back, wow, just wow.

          So I understand why some companies, in particular circumstances, want to inform people up front of these requirements.

          Reply
          1. Natalie

            I don’t think anyone is suggesting people shouldn’t be *informed* up front. You could even ask for acknowledgement or consent up front. The issue is collecting a bunch of personal information up front, when there’s an excellent chance the employer will never actually need it.

            Reply
          2. the_scientist

            See, this is interesting because I have access to (anonymized) personal health information as a researcher. I did not have to pass a background check for this role, despite the fact that this is highly sensitive data. I did have to do a credential check, though- as in, the employer actually called the schools that I have degrees from to verify that 1) yes, I did graduate from that school and 2) I have the degrees that I claim to have. I think this is probably not very common, and because it’s time-consuming they only do it once they have made a conditional offer.

            At my last job I had a corporate purchasing card (albeit with a low limit) and was able to handle cash honoraria and did not have to pass either a background check or a credit check.

            For renting apartments, I’ve always paid for and gotten my own credit report and then provided a copy to prospective landlords. I would never let a random landlord have my SIN#, even in the hyper-competitive rental market where I live.

            Reply
            1. Anonforthis

              I am the CFO at a financial institution. To my knowledge, there was no background or credit check done on me.

              Reply
            2. Original Poster

              “At my last job I had a corporate purchasing card (albeit with a low limit) and was able to handle cash honoraria and did not have to pass either a background check or a credit check.”

              After reading through these comments, I’m thinking it really goes back to a company culture issue. I had an extensive back check prior to starting work for a real estate company as an hourly admin assistant but did not when I moved into management at a different company and had a corporate card with some discretionary spending.

              “For renting apartments, I’ve always paid for and gotten my own credit report and then provided a copy to prospective landlords. I would never let a random landlord have my SIN#, even in the hyper-competitive rental market where I live.”

              Wowza. I’d say that’s atypical in the property management world.

              Reply
    3. Felicia

      As a fellow Canadian (hi!) I have also never heard of anyone who has ever had to do a credit check or drug test as part of a job application, or even as part of accepting an offer. The only people i’ve ever heard of who have to do a background check are people who work with vulnerable populations – so they work with children, the elderly or individuals with disabilities. I have never heard of anyone who doesn’t work with those populations having to do a background check to accept an offer, let alone apply somewhere. Is this an American thing? I have also never personally encountered an application that required my SIN (Canadian equivalent of SSN) though I have heard of it happening

      Reply
      1. Anoners

        Yeah most Canadian provinces have super strict rules on checks (especially background checks). I just saw an article today that there are new Limits on the amount of info the police will even give employers for checks now (wont mention anything mental health related).

        Reply
      2. dancer

        The jobs I applied for needed security clearance… so yeah they definitely ask for SIN numbers, and I have been asked to fill out that information before interveiws as well. Again, this shouldn’t be true generally, but I’m sure there are plenty of industries where it applies.

        Reply
    4. Petronella

      I’m in Canada and I have absolutely been asked for my SIN and permission to do a credit check on the initial application. These were all retail jobs though. I discontinued both applications immediately. They were for Canadian Tire, Le Chateau, and something else I’ve forgotten. Yet another reason why working retail sucks (sorry Retail Lifer and others, but it’s true!).

      Reply
      1. the_scientist

        I wonder if this is more common in minimum-wage positions than in blue or white-collar professions. The worst thing is that people applying for service sector jobs are often the people who either don’t know enough to be suspicious of putting their SIN down (i.e. students/teens) or people who don’t really have a choice because they need a job, any job. If it’s more common in lower-paid jobs, it’s also a sign of serious class bias- like, oh we just assume that our entire applicant pool are thieves with bad credit and potentially also drug users (at least in the US), because lol poor people. Or something.

        Also, a general PSA that no-one should work for Canadian Tire because they are The Worst and employee a number of shady employment practices. It pains me to say this because I try and support Canadian businesses, but they suck.

        Reply
  10. Sarah Nicole

    This reminds me of the time I went to an interview in college for a telemarketing position after calling about their ad I found online. I got there, and the place looked like a pop-up business in an industrial part of town. They immediately made me fill out an application with a box for my SSN. I filled it all out without my SSN. They then showed me around the place, which had no room with phones (so how was I supposed to be a telemarketer?) and then asked me a couple of questions about my past. Then she glanced at my application and asked why I hadn’t put my SSN. I told her I was uncomfortable giving it at this stage and would do so when I was selected to begin training. She said OK and I left with her telling me they liked me and would call me.

    I called to follow up a week later, and the phone number was disconnected. I am 100% convinced that this was a scam where they rent and office for a couple of weeks, call in people for interviews, and then steal their information. I don’t know if I’m right, but I’m so glad I didn’t give it to them.

    Reply
      1. Sarah Nicole

        Seriously! All I wanted to ask is, “So where are the phones?” I think she must have seen my skepticism because she said, “We’re still getting set up here, our phones and computers are on their way.” I already had an uneasy feeling, but needed work, which is why I called back that week after. I guess it’s good I trusted my instinct not to give away any personal info. But I do know this is probably not the case for most companies asking for the info – like AAM said, they’re probably just wanting to streamline and are a little out of touch with how wrong this feels to job seekers.

        Reply
        1. Elizabeth West

          That’s creepy.
          I went to an address to fill out an application once, and it was an empty storefront. I felt so weirded out I hopped back in my car and got the hell out of there.

          Reply
          1. Sarah Nicole

            Yikes, good idea. I know, I haven’t really run into many of these situations, but I have heard about a lot of them. The saddest part is that it’s easy to fall victim to one of these when you really need work, making you the last person on earth that needs to have their identity stolen.

            Reply
    1. Allison

      Dang, I never even thought of that! I guess if I was physically in an office that seemed sketchy I wouldn’t give them my personal info, but filling out an application online? I’m not sure I’d consider the risk.

      Reply
    2. Elizabeth West

      Eons ago when I was in music school in Kansas, I went to a place that billed itself as an employment agency , and they asked me to fill out a form that wanted my SS# along with a whole bunch of other information. Nothing on the form or in the office indicated they were anything other than what they said. When I handed it in, the lady told me they charged $1000 for their job-matching service!

      There was no freaking way I had $1000, and the whole thing had scam written all over it. I insisted she give me back my form–I told her I was not going to leave without it. Then I tore it up in front of her and took the pieces with me. I wish I had reported them but I had no idea who to call or where to do so. I don’t know if that was legal at the time, but if so, it shouldn’t have been!

      Reply
      1. Sarah Nicole

        That is crazy! If I had $1000, why would I need your damn job matching service? Also, you were very smart to demand the form back. Who knows what would have happened if they had kept it? Jeez

        Reply
      2. Sarah Nicole

        Follow up and off topic: You went to music school? Nice! My BA is in music performance, too. Not that I’m really using it anymore…

        Reply
    3. Original Poster

      Yikes! I think you’re right about the scam, and you were certainly right to withhold information.

      Reply
  11. Stranger than fiction

    Op I’m in CA too and this is very common – to fill out an application either when you arrive for your interview or sometimes they email it to you upon scheduling the interview. like Alison said, they don’t spend the time or money to actually perform the background checks until you’re about to receive an offer , but they’re getting your consent now. Also, the extent to which they screen you often depends on the job level. I remember once being very concerned about them checking my credit because I had a bankruptcy during the recession so I asked the HR rep and told her my concern. She told me oh we only check credit for managers and up

    Reply
    1. Stranger than fiction

      But I sh add I was also once rejected because of my credit, but that was the very beginning of the recession and I think a lot of companies have relaxed a bit on that. After all, so many people lost their houses etc

      Reply
      1. Original Poster

        I feel for you! Management positions are one of the few positions that still qualify for lawful pre-employment credit checks. However, companies still must demonstrate that the credit check is directly job-related. Unfortunately, this language is so broad, employers can make equally broad arguments about employment decisions made based on the results of the credit check.

        California law was designed to prevent discrimination against candidates who were negatively impacted by the recession, but it doesn’t seem to be working. The lack of specificity in the guidance about credit checks creates a self-defeating cycle for candidates who may have poor credit due to being employed. It’s hard to repair your credit if you can’t find a job.

        Reply
        1. Stranger than fiction

          Yes exactly and when it happened to me I don’t think the person was supposed to have tole me it was the reason. Unfortunately all types of bias still occur regardless of any acts put in place. I also was pretty sure last time around I was discriminated against for being unemployed so when I began helping a friend set up his own business (for free) and added that to my resume, magically I began getting tons of interviews. So yes , they’re not supposed to use information like this against you but it happens all the time

          Reply
    2. Brooke

      FWIW, I work for a defense contractor. They did a basic background check on me before I was interviewed, mostly as reassurance that I’d be likely to pass the (costly, for them) lengthy, in-depth security clearance once hired.

      Reply
  12. Employment Lawyer

    There are many reasons why the employer’s tactic makes some sense.

    1) It let folks self-screen. I do not want to waste time on someone who will fail all the screens, and they don’t want to waste time either. But EVEN MORE, I don’t want to actually have to fire/refuse someone because they fail a screen. Announcing that I require a drug test up front is better for everyone, since the drug users simply won’t apply at all. Requiring screens up front is a signal that they care about the results.

    2) It increases efficiency. If they like you enough, they may want to move forward and check your stuff before they make you more offers for interviews. That’s a lot easier to do if they don’t have to get you back in to sign everything.

    3) It is universal. Doing it for every single employee allows them to avoid charges that they only do it for a particular, protected, class.

    The concept that this sort of thing would “wait until the offer” is bloody ridiculous. Do you seriously think that an employer should reject other candidates and spend a ton of time only to find out LATER that you have bad screens which make them not want to hire you? Checking references is the sole exception to that.

    It is reasonable to ask how the data will be secured. It is reasonable to ask what happens to it if you are not hired. And it is reasonable to ensure that they won’t be calling your references until the last minute, especially current ones. But it isn’t reasonable to withhold data which is relevant and force them to make the initial investment, especially in this market.

    Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Wait, what? It’s not ridiculous — loads of employers don’t ask for this stuff until they’re at the offer stage, or just before it. You don’t reject other finalists before you’ve done the check on the one you want to hire, but you absolutely can and should wait until you are at the finalist stage with someone before collecting this information. Tons of companies manage to do that and it works just fine.

      What you’re describing here is all about the employer’s convenience trumping all consideration for the candidate.

      Reply
      1. Employment Lawyer

        Ask a Manager June 18, 2015 at 12:19 pm
        What you’re describing here is all about the employer’s convenience trumping all consideration for the candidate.

        Screens cost money, so nobody does them en masse. They just want authorization. They never screen until you seem at least marginally interesting. And then they start with the cheap ones, before they begin to spend HR time on things.

        The candidate should demand consideration which matters. If they’re willing to be screened–which they presumably are–then the “information they’re collecting” is not necessarily something that matters. If they don’t have bad criminal histories–which they presumably don’t–then allowing a criminal history check should not be a problem. And so on.

        Now, it could be that it really matters to someone. Perhaps you don’t trust a company to have your information at all. In which case, you should probably not be applying there. I don’t begrudge anyone who doesn’t trust me, but I’m not inclined to hire them.

        Some companies do it otherwise. Those are companies who, presumably, don’t care about the outcomes of the screens to the same degree. Or perhaps they are rich enough to afford to spend time on people who they then reject. Or, more commonly, we’re talking about very high-level folks. Or, they are trying to appeal to people with different preferences.

        The market is good that way.

        Reply
        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Right, I understand no one is doing them en masse; that’s what I said in the post, after all.

          I think you might be misunderstanding what info people are reluctant to give up at early stages; it’s not whether they have a criminal history, but rather stuff like SSNs which can be used for identify theft. And you can say that if you don’t trust a company to handle it well, you shouldn’t work there — but (a) you probably don’t know enough about the company to make that judgment at this stage (they don’t know if they want to work with you yet either; that’s what this process is all about figuring out), and (b) loads of large companies with decent reputations still lose data (look at the federal government just recently). It’s not unreasonable that people are uneasy about this.

          I don’t understand how you can say that companies who handle this differently ” don’t care about the outcomes of the screens to the same degree.” Of course they do. they’re still screening people; they’re just asking for their info at a more appropriate stage of the process — once the person is a finalist. There is NO reason to not to do it that way other than that it’s marginally more convenient for the employer not to have to ask for it then.

          Reply
          1. Employment Lawyer

            Ask a Manager June 18, 2015 at 1:13 pm
            I think you might be misunderstanding what info people are reluctant to give up at early stages; it’s not whether they have a criminal history, but rather stuff like SSNs which can be used for identify theft.

            No, I understand it.
            And you can say that if you don’t trust a company to handle it well, you shouldn’t work there — but (a) you probably don’t know enough about the company to make that judgment at this stage (they don’t know if they want to work with you yet either; that’s what this process is all about figuring out), and (b) loads of large companies with decent reputations still lose data (look at the federal government just recently).
            At a minimum, every single company has SSN on every single one of their employees. Depending on how they work they may also have information on every single one of their applicants. It isn’t like they jsut start having security when you apply.

            If the result of this is that “applicants do more digging up front to see if the company is one they would trust,” then I do not think that is a bad outcome.

            It’s not unreasonable that people are uneasy about this.
            Well, I don’t actually think that most people are accurately assessing security risk. the chances of a small company getting hacked for their SSN data which is in a HR file is very low.

            I don’t understand how you can say that companies who handle this differently ” don’t care about the outcomes of the screens to the same degree.” Of course they do. they’re still screening people; they’re just asking for their info at a more appropriate stage of the process — once the person is a finalist.
            A company who delays screens until they have invested a lot of time and money in a candidate is:
            -confident that their candidates will almost never fail the screens, and/or
            -willing to overlook issues raised by the screens, provided that the candidate is otherwise ideal.

            A company who screens up front is:
            -less confident that their candidates will pass the screen, and/or
            -unwilling to overlook issues raised by the screens, irrespective of other candidate qualities.

            There is NO reason to not to do it that way other than that it’s marginally more convenient for the employer not to have to ask for it then.
            Marginally? For real?

            Last management-level finalist interview at a friend’s company took about 15 man-hours (or more) for the company, including resume screening, interview prep, pre-and post-interview discussions; a second interview; etc.

            Those folks are getting paid a minimum of $50/hour and some of them are upwards of $100/hour.

            It sure sucks to have everyone wasting tons of time and money on a candidate who then fails a screen. That usually happens once, but not twice–the company simply starts screening earlier.

            Reply
            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              Wait, so you are advocating that companies run the checks before investing time in interviewing people? Earlier I thought you’d agreed that that makes no sense to do and that that’s not what most companies are doing.

              Now I’m confused because you seem to be talking about something totally different — running background checks on people before interviews (rather than just having them fill out the form with info and authorization). Hardly anyone does that, because it would be wildly inefficient and unnecessary.

              Reply
              1. Sarah Nicole

                Yes, I was wondering about this, too. As I said below, if you are inevitably going to screen the same amount of candidates, why not wait until you are sure who those candidates are? But if you’re talking about screening everyone right away….well I think that would be a bigger waste of time and money than having a finalist occasionally fail a screen or not work out for some other reason toward the end.

                Reply
              2. Employment Lawyer

                You get information at all stages.

                Think of this as three classes of folks:

                A) People who will pass a screen.
                B) People who will not pass a screen.
                C) People who will subsequently refuse to authorize a screen.

                Assume that you will never hire anyone in groups B or C.

                Assume for a moment that you have only a single data point: “Is this person willing to authorize a screen?”

                You can’t know for sure what the outcome will be. But it’s reasonable to conclude that people who ARE willing to authorize a screen, without knowing whether or not you will run it immediately, are more likely to be in Group A, and less likely to be in Group B; and, obviously not in Group C at all.

                If “avoiding giving interviews to group B and C folks” is a real benefit to you–which depends on your internal processes, values, costs of interviewing, candidate pool, etc.–then it makes perfect sense.

                Just as a personal note, my paralegal has a criminal record, but it has nothing to do with her job, so I don’t care. But she wouldn’t have the job if she hadn’t disclosed it on Day 1.

                Reply
            2. Sarah Nicole

              Employee with an IT firm here – the chances of a small company getting hacked for their SSN data which is in a HR file is very low.

              This is very wrong. Small companies can be easier targets as their security practices are often not up to snuff. In fact, there has been a rise in hackers going after small business data in the last few years.

              Also, I think it just doesn’t really matter whether it is a large or small company. You take a great risk the more times you give out your identifying information, such as SSN. If I gave my SSN to every company that might screen me, I’m increasing my risk. However, if I’m a finalist at, say, 2 organizations, I have only risked myself twice in my job search by giving out my info. It may make absolutely no difference to the company collecting the data, but it presents a huge risk to us as the job seekers. I think overlooking that fact is out of touch.

              And finally, your points about “wasting time and money” on candidates that might not pan out…if they were going to screen the same amount of people later in the process, why not just wait to collect the info from the finalists? It presents less risk to the job seekers and even the company itself because it has obtained less information from less people. The way you’re making it sound, only X number of people will ever be screened anyway, so why not just wait to figure out who those X number of people will be?

              Reply
              1. Colette

                And it may not be being hacked – it might be discarding a computer (or physical files) without destroying the data. Small companies are less likely to have an efficient IT department or data disposal policies.

                Reply
                1. Sarah Nicole

                  Yeah, good point. There are tons of ways others can get their hands on your information. It’s not wrong to be cautious.

                2. Natalie

                  Yes, see my story upthread about discovering a cache of names + social security numbers in a random folder in an unlocked file. I nearly pitched the whole thing (unshredded) into the recycling before I opened it.

            3. LBK

              Wait, what? The percentage of people overall that are going to fail screens is really low. There’s no way it makes sense to run a background check on every single person that you want to phone interview – this is totally unscientific but I can’t imagine you weed out any more that 10% of the field, and that’s a generous guess.

              I understand what you’re saying, that it sucks to get to the last stage and have the person fail the test. But that’s one failed test for someone you really wanted instead of 100 tests for people you don’t even know if you have interest in, whether or not they pass the test. And it’s not that detrimental; rarely do you have one single candidate you’d be willing to hire. Someone fails the test? You move on to your #2 choice. That could just as easily happen if they decide to take another offer, or they decide at the end they’re not interested, or they have a family emergency and have to move across the country, etc. Reshaping your whole interview process based on one offer falling through seems like a gross overreaction.

              All in all, the risk vs reward scenario you’re setting up here in favor of doing background checks earlier in the process just doesn’t ring true to me at all.

              Reply
            4. No Longer Passing By

              I also am an employment lawyer and I’m confused about your policies. Ban the box legislation is being enacted across the U.S. and there are many conflicting federal, state, and local policies relating to sensitive information and the corresponding disclosures. Personally, I would prefer to limit liability to the few people affected in late stage requests than open myself to broader, early requests. The penalties are extremely harsh and can force a small business to close entirely!!!

              Reply
          1. LBK

            Yeah, I’m pretty sure I’ve had to sign something during a hiring process that said I’d be willing to consent to a background check, but it didn’t actually require any of the info necessary to do so.

            Reply
    2. CAinUK

      I also don’t get your cost-savings argument (point 3). I assume each screen costs money to the employer. But you’re arguing doing screens for everyone is somehow cheaper than doing it for one person once a contract is offered? That makes no sense (I also don’t get your point about doing it for a protected class – what protected class?).

      As for your first point, I agree it lets ppl self-screen but I disagree it is a good thing. Because this is NOT the norm, it means the ppl self-screening out are ones who likely are not desperate for that job and have other options (i.e. the competitive candidates you likely want to meet).

      Reply
      1. JB (not in Houston)

        Yes, exactly. I have no reason to fear a credit check or a background check, but I’d turn down applying for a job that required this stuff up front even before interviews. I just don’t like what that says about the company.

        Reply
        1. Employment Lawyer

          Which is totally OK.

          It’s important to them: it doesn’t mean it has to be important to you.

          Similarly, just because something is important to you (“employee pre-interview nondisclosure of information”) doesn’t mean that it has to be, or should be, important to them.

          The market is nice that way.

          Reply
          1. Colette

            I think it’s important to understand that candidates with other options (i.e. the people who are stronger candidates) are more likely to decide not to bother applying/continuing with the process, not because they have something to hide but because they don’t need to job badly enough to take the risk of that information being mishandled.

            Reply
          2. Nerdling

            A company that doesn’t think not risking non-employees’ PII is important is indeed not one that I would want to work for.

            Reply
    3. Natalie

      “Announcing that I require a drug test up front is better for everyone, since the drug users simply won’t apply at all. ”

      Ha ha, sure. Drug users definitely don’t pass drug tests *all the time*, especially when they have advanced notice that they’ll be drug tested.

      Reply
      1. Annon for this

        So with that was the case with the last two applicants with positive drug tests (test required per law). It set the company back $50 each for the test, not to mention the couple hours with the manager. We are so small that that money could have been used better and the time was the real kicker.

        Reply
        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          That’s really just a cost of hiring if you choose to drug-test though. You can’t really solve it by drug-testing everyone before you interview them, or you’ll lose all your best candidates who will find that annoying and disrespectful of their time.

          Reply
          1. Annon for this

            Yes, I realize it is the cost. My comment was in agreement to Natalie’s “Announcing that I require a drug test up front is better for everyone, since the drug users simply won’t apply at all. ” hahaha.
            I should have spent another minute making sure it was clear.
            The industry I work in is mandated by federal law (CDL) to perform pre-employment and random drug tests. It’s amazing to me that someone with a CDL would even risk their license by dabbling in drugs, but to then apply for a job knowing that you took illegal drugs and to still go for the test…just makes me shake my head. Most especially because the radar went up and I ignored it.
            Believe me, I am totally in agreement with the majority here on keeping private info private.

            Reply
            1. Natalie

              That was quite silly of them. I was just joking about the many, many people I knew who regularly smoked pot but still managed to get retail jobs that did a drug test, myself included (in my younger days before pot gave me the spins). Having a head’s up that one was going to have a drug test was the perfect opportunity to quit for a week or two, pass the drug test, and then resume your drug-doing lifestyle unscathed.

              Reply
    4. Steve G

      But besides checking references, how are the other checks so vital to do up front in a way that helps you decide if they are a worthwhile candidate? I doubt most people have a hidden criminal record that you’re going to uncover, and credit checks shouldn’t have anything to do with a job. I mean, I have sky high credit because my partner paid for things sometimes when I made less $, then I was lucky to get 2 huge bonuses and completely pay off all of my debts. Neither of those things make me a good worker.

      Reply
      1. Stranger than fiction

        I think what some of us are missing is, it prevents the awkward intermediate step of calling or emailing you back and getting the info since 1) they then have delay waiting for you to respond and 2) then the candidate is like Oh goody I must be a finalist

        Reply
    5. Sans

      Self-screening? People aren’t refusing to let you do the background checks because they’ve got a felony or they’ll fail the drug test. They are refusing to let you do the checks NOW, before they know anything about you or you about them. They don’t like the invasiveness and they don’t like giving out private info that might get hacked.

      I really don’t see what’s so hard about asking for information for just the person you’ve chosen. If they fail the check, then ask your second choice. It’s not rocket science.

      Reply
      1. Another HRPro

        Just because you are collecting the information now doesn’t mean you are doing the background check now. Very few organizations do background checks prior to making a contingent offer. It is too expensive to do them prior.

        Reply
        1. Dana

          Then you don’t need it. You can have them sign a form that says something like “employment contingent upon passing blah blah blah checks” or a consent form or something.

          Reply
    6. Ad Astra

      If you want to give people a chance to self-select out, mention these screens when advertising the job, and perhaps again during a phone interview. It’s very inconsiderate to demand upfront that an applicant hand over sensitive information that you don’t yet need and may never use.

      Reply
    7. Mike C.

      This is absolutely crazy, especially when there is no protection or recourse for idiot employers losing possession of PII. Should I just have to suck it up?

      Reply
    8. Another HRPro

      For my company, it helps with self-screening. As a large employer, we get thousands of applicants for each job opening. And even if you tell candidates that they will have to pass a drug test and background check (in some cases to include credit check) they don’t worry about it until the offer comes. And then all of a sudden they refuse to consent or stall. By getting consent upfront no one has to waste their time. I’m not saying companies should do this, but one of the reasons they do is that they have been burned by too many candidates over time.

      Reply
      1. Natalie

        That may be, but I don’t think your convenience should trump the risk a candidate takes that you may not secure this information correctly for what I assume is thousands of people (given that you’re a large organization).

        If you’re so worried about people stalling, have them sign an acknowledgement of or consent to a future background check *without* collecting their personal information.

        Reply
        1. Employment Lawyer

          “If you’re so worried about people stalling, have them sign an acknowledgement of or consent to a future background check *without* collecting their personal information.

          Doesn’t work.

          “There are two categories:

          1) people who have to sign things in the future.
          2) people who don’t have to sign things in the future.

          You’re either in #1 or #2.

          Reply
          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            I … don’t know what this means.

            Look, you ask for background check authorization when you have finalists. Most people are perfectly happy to authorize it then. It’s really not that hard — tons of companies do it that way.

            Reply
            1. Employment Lawyer

              Most people are perfectly happy to authorize it then.

              Right. There’s the rub.

              If I’m interviewing and spending money to narrow down a pool of finalists, I don’t want “most.” I want “all.” I don’t want to spend my time and effort on someone who won’t pass, or (worse yet) will be a PITA about giving that information up.

              If I’m interviewing for a position which (like many positions these days) I have a glut of candidates who are qualified, I don’t care about eliminating too many of them by accident.

              I know, I know: all the people who walk away think they’re the “most qualified.” But that isn’t true.

              “tons of companies do it that way.”
              [shrug] No debate there, but what does that matter? Tons of companies do good things, bad things, smart things, and stupid things. Evidence of prevalence is not evidence of quality, or lack of it.

              Reply
              1. Ask a Manager Post author

                Well, I guess we just profoundly disagree.

                It’s incredibly rare to have someone refuse a background check at the finalist stage. Rare enough that it’s just not a risk to seriously worry about. If it happens, it happens — just like bad reference checks happen, or people withdrawing from the process happen. It doesn’t happen enough that you need safeguards against it. You just don’t.

                Reply
                1. Meg Murry

                  Exactly – how many people are refusing you once you get to the end stages? I’m assuming most companies have 2 or 3 finalists, so even if one of them turns you down and refuses to sign, you still have the other 1 or 2. I think it comes down to a numbers game – would you rather pre-screen all 50 of your applicants, so that when you get down to the last 2 or 3 none of them fail or refuse? Or would you rather wait and screen your top 1, 2 or 3, and if that person fails move on to the next person on the list?

                  What screens are you doing up front? Are you just asking people to sign the forms to consent to the screening, if they get selected as finalists? or are you actually conducting the screening? Do you honestly expect people to take time out of their workday to go have a drug test (which takes no less than 1.5 hours of my time and almost always requires me to leave my current job early or take a half day, plus the drug screening places treat me like a criminal) before you even offer them an interview? Would you consent to that yourself?

                  Because I’m the world’s biggest super-dork, I would love to see a Freakonomics study on this for a company hiring for multiple of the same position – divide applicant pool in 2, have half the applicants be asked for info up front and the other half not until they are finalists, and see how it shakes out in terms of numbers of applicants and costs for screening vs hourly cost of interviewers salaries.

                2. Original Poster

                  I agree completely. Employment Lawyer is forgetting about the enormous time investment that the candidate has made. Candidates subject themselves to the same lengthy process that employers spend evaluating them. By the time they get to the finalist stage, they are “in it to win it.” Besides, you can easily avoid any potential late-in-the-game refusal by disclosing at the time of application that position finalists will be subject to a comprehensive background screening.

              2. Nerdling

                If you’re moving so many people to the finalist stage that you’re losing that much money, you need a better screening process, not access to more people’s information.

                Reply
              3. neverjaunty

                From all of your comments, it sounds like your #1 qualification in an employee is someone who sits down, shuts up, does what they’re told and doesn’t ask any questions about things that might not be in their best interest.

                And if that’s the case, then yes, insisting everybody hand over irrelevant personal information up front without telling them how you’ll be securing it (and punishing them if they are “a PITA about it”, i.e., ask any questions) is a good screening tool.

                Reply
              4. AGirlCalledFriday

                This is ridiculous. I must be missing something here. The ideal scenario people are suggesting is:

                Step 1: Apply to the ad (that might mention drug/credit/background checks)
                Step 2: Phone Interview (where the checks might be mentioned)
                Step 3: Interview
                Step 4: Interviewer reaches out to like, 2 people – “hey, it was great meeting you it and we would like to move you to the next stage! To do this I’ll need the following info that I’m attaching to this email, please fill it out and return to me.”
                Step 5: Candidate fills out the info and sends it back. Checks are done, and if all is good, they might have the job.

                If the candidate refuses/never fills out the info/fails the test, then reach out to the next person on your list.

                What you seem to be espousing is:
                Step 1: Candidate applies.
                Step 2: Everyone give me all your sensitive info right now, that you don’t even know how it will be stored, the people involved, or how it will be used. Oh, but wait – I might not use it. If fact, I probably won’t. It will probably just sit in a drawer somewhere that may or may not be locked. What, don’t you trust me? You have applied to 50 jobs in the past month, didn’t you do highly intensive research to find out how everything is going to be stored?

                I had my identity stolen, and cards taken out in my name. There is NO WAY I’m giving out sensitive information just like that, and it’s not because I’m feeling particularly criminal at the moment. With all the major information leaks going on, plenty of people are going to be very concerned about giving out their private information. Are you going to give me YOUR SSN so that I can run a background check on you to see if I want to work with you?

                I just…REALLY….don’t understand how someone can legitimately have this view. It seems so incredibly backward to me.

                Reply
          2. Elsajeni

            The point is to give people who know they won’t pass the check to self-select out. You can do that by telling them “Before we hire anyone, we’ll need to run [types of background screening], and we can’t hire anyone who has [issues on background screens you’ll rule people out for]; do you still want to proceed?” at the time of application, which has the exact same effect as collecting their information at the time of application for a background check to be run later in the process — many people who know they won’t pass will self-select out, some won’t — except that you’ll lose fewer people who would pass but who object to handing over sensitive personal information so early in the process.

            Reply
            1. Stranger than fiction

              I do see this language in job ads but also in this day and age I can’t believe anyone would be shocked they’ll be having their background checked

              Reply
          3. Natalie

            Yeah, your attempted clarification below still doesn’t make this comment make any sense. AnotherHRPro is saying that they have candidates who “don’t worry about it until the offer comes. And then all of a sudden they refuse to consent or stall.” I am asking why, *if the issue is refusing to consent or stalling*, AnotherHRPro doesn’t just ask for the consent ahead of time and deal with the personal information at the offer stage.

            Reply
          4. neverjaunty

            This is just silly. Do you also have every applicant sign a contingent employment agreement, W-2, next of kin notification, and application for a parking sticker, so they don’t have to do them “in the future” when they’re hired?

            Reply
      2. Mike C.

        Who cares about your employer’s inconvenience? It’s a drop in the bucket compares to the hell your applicants will go through once your company’s (likely terrible) computer systems are hacked and the PII is sold to the highest bidder. And with no requirements to disclose breaches in security, that makes it even more difficult on the applicants.

        All because you have too many applicants? You’ll have to excuse my complete lack of sympathy here, but if I can handle the paperwork that goes with knowing how every last part, installation, repair and inspection of a jumbo jet was performed without having to invade the privacy of every last mechanic, inspector, planner or supplier involved, you can deal with a few thousand applicants.

        Reply
        1. Nerdling

          Yeah, I feel as though the employer’s inconvenience is a whole lot less than the inconvenience and potential complete destruction of having one’s PII stolen. Credit freezes, fighting to get any fraudulent charges reversed, the hit to your credit that it can cause, the costs associated with having to do all this stuff (interest rate hikes if your credit suddenly plummeted, etc)… The potential losses are far greater for the potential employees than the employers.

          Reply
        2. Ineloquent

          Mike, I really want to know where you work (not that you have to tell me). It sounds like you have a cool job.

          Reply
          1. Mike C.

            I won’t explicitly say where I work, but look at the video I posted in last Friday’s open thread.

            Reply
    9. Original Poster

      1. Re: Self-Screens –> In the future, it will certainly allow me to self-screen based not on my ability to pass a background screening but my disinterest in disclosing personal information before I have been given a chance to evaluate the organization.

      2. A couple of points: a) As a candidate I would like to know whether the company is a good fit for ME, and I would like to know that a company thinks I am a good fit for the culture before they evaluate my very personal information (including some protected information, such as age). B) As someone who is often on hiring side, albeit in a different industry, background screening all candidates prior to interview reduces efficiency and is quite costly. There is a great deal of paperwork involved in screening and making employment decisions on screening. Furthermore, screening without context may eliminate qualified candidates who’s ability to perform would not actually be affected by a criminal background or poor credit. Additionally, all candidates who are screened and adversely affected must go through the adverse-action process, which is time consuming.

      3. Once you choose to screen for a particular position, it HAS to be universal. That’s the law.

      Re: “reasonable” – What initial investment? If anything, it’s a much greater financial and administrative investment to run a detailed background screening than it is to reserve that level of scrutiny for the finalists.

      Reply
      1. Employment Lawyer

        Original Poster
        June 18, 2015 at 12:51 pm
        1. Re: Self-Screens –> In the future, it will certainly allow me to self-screen based not on my ability to pass a background screening but my disinterest in disclosing personal information before I have been given a chance to evaluate the organization.

        OK. For many companies, nothing would make them happier than to have more of their applicants do a bit more “evaluating the organization” before applying. Those who don’t care, won’t screen.

        2. A couple of points: a) As a candidate I would like to know whether the company is a good fit for ME, and I would like to know that a company thinks I am a good fit for the culture before they evaluate my very personal information (including some protected information, such as age).
        Eh. Is that company doing well? Did you want to apply there? You don’t have equal bargaining power. The company doesn’t want to spend a ton of time on knowing whether you’re a good fit for the culture, if you indicate up front that you are one of those folks who feels like they want to control the interaction.

        You are probably one of 100 applicants, if not more. You’re demanding that they spend time on you without giving them the information which they want. Sometimes that works; sometimes not.

        B) As someone who is often on hiring side, albeit in a different industry, background screening all candidates prior to interview reduces efficiency and is quite costly.
        I’m almost certain that they don’t DO the screening, they merely authorize it.
        There is a great deal of paperwork involved in screening and making employment decisions on screening. Furthermore, screening without context may eliminate qualified candidates who’s ability to perform would not actually be affected by a criminal background or poor credit.
        Sure, that is possible. Though I am often a bit skeptical of folks who (a) don’t run the business, and (b) are sure that they know, better than the business owners, what the job requires. Unless you have a dearth of qualified candidates (which is rare in many fields these days,) it’s usually OK to “over-reject” them.
        …Re: “reasonable” – What initial investment? If anything, it’s a much greater financial and administrative investment to run a detailed background screening than it is to reserve that level of scrutiny for the finalists.
        Time is an investment. Interviewing you is an investment. Circulating your resume around 10 people for comments and screening is an investment.

        By the end of an interview, many companies will have invested MUCH more time than the interview itself. You say you’re involved in hiring: how do you not know this?
        More to the point: They are not screening for what you think that they are screening for. Part of this is “Signalling.”
        In other words, you may think that they are screening for a credit check.
        But in reality, they are also screening for “pain in the ass employees.” Or “employees who plan to lie about their credit.” Or “employees who aren’t legally in the US and were hoping to slide by.” Or “employees who don’t have real references and who had planned to set up fake ones at the last minute.” And so on.

        When I make demands on interviewees, it is only sometimes because I need that demand met. Often enough, it is because I want to see how the interviewee responds to the demand. This is the same thing that you are doing, when you demand that they interview you first without the information.
        It’s a bit like using scores on a well-known test: the scores don’t necessarily screen for intelligence; they also screen for whether or not someone is “with it” enough to understand the importance of the test and prepare accordingly.

        Reply
        1. Malissa

          I see your points. I really do. And this kind of think probably works great at lower levels where you are getting hundreds of applications and you want people who will do what you want with very little questioning.
          In this way you are screening out people who like to know what’s going on around them, people who are more focused on the bigger picture, and highly qualified people that are in demand. Highly qualified people who have options will self select out of this process.
          When the market eventually cycles back to a job seekers market these kinds of practices will significantly lessen the applicant pool.

          Reply
          1. Employment Lawyer

            Imagine the possibility that your SSN would be hacked
            a) By this particular company
            b) only if you don’t make the final interview stage. (If you get to that level they have your SSN anyway.)

            There are probably 5 million employers in the US. The number of folks who are hacked for SSNs is a tiny, tiny, percentage of that. And it’s almost always huge ones, who are high value targets.

            If you want to focus on the bigger picture, you may as well do it with good math.

            Reply
            1. Original Poster

              There’s more than just electronic hacking to worry about. There’s handing your name, SSN and DOB on a physical application to a receptionist who puts it in an inbox. It’s now on a physical piece of paper that just lies around in a file for every employee and contractor to potentially access. In a company that may have public walk-ins, that’s a legit concern.

              Reply
              1. Stranger than fiction

                Well back when I was working in restaurants that was a legit concern since apps could sit in the hostess stand drawer indefinitely, so I used to put X’s for my ssn then but also to my knowledge restaurants rarely actually run background checks or even check references in my experience

                Reply
              2. neverjaunty

                Seriously. I find it hard to believe an actual, practicing attorney is saying “what are the odds? take the risk!” particularly as THAT EXACT ARGUMENT has just landed Sony in a lot of hot water in a data breach lawsuit

                Reply
                1. No Longer Passing By

                  This is why the lawyer stereotypes exist. I’m reading so befuddled about the situation. Many valid points but ultimately I disagree with the conclusion. A background check is $200-400 per person. Why would I run that on everyone? That drives up the Total Cost of Hire!

                  I opened a position 28 days ago and drilled down to 2 finalists in the time period. I had 98 applicants!!!!

            2. Malissa

              So do they shred my documents with all of my info on it if I don’t make it to the final interview stage? Do they mention this on those papers?
              So it’s okay to ask for a social security number and expect with-out question if you aren’t an attractive target for hackers? How does that even matter? The less times my number is out there, the less times it’s available. I know that 99.99% of the time

              As someone who has to do a background and credit check for any job for which I will be hired, I am almost never asked for that until I’ve had an initial interview where I learn something about the company and they learn something about me. Ask me to do this at the application stage, I’m moving on because the company is not showing an ability to know that asking for that information is something that should be done with foresight and discretion. And I’m betting that many other qualified candidates who have options are doing the same. Is that a risk you want to take as an employer?

              Reply
            3. LBK

              I’m about as casual and unconcerned about being hacked or having my identity stolen as can be – as someone who’s done worked that involved looking at hundreds of SSNs per day, they’re mostly meaningless to me now. That said, it’s not necessarily just about the practical, statistical risk of being hacked if you give out your SSN to someone – it’s just the request for a private piece of information alone that would have my hackles up. It’s unnecessarily intrusive, even if in pragmatic terms it’s not dangerous.

              Reply
            4. Sarah Nicole

              I wrote this in response to a comment of yours above, but you are wrong about the number of security breaches and likelihood of data to be hacked. Just because a company doesn’t make front page media in regards to a hack doesn’t mean security breaches aren’t happening all the time. A ton of organizations’ security practices are not up to par, and even for the ones who are, a hack is just a matter of time. Finding vulnerabilities in systems is the full-time job of these criminals, and they are good at it.

              I could write pages about why all of us have to be even more careful these days about giving out our info, but I’ll spare that and just tell you that there are an incredible amount of security breaches that happen daily, and some of them don’t report, just hoping they won’t get caught and nothing bad will happen…

              Bottom line – people have good reason to be wary of giving away personally identifiable information to companies who haven’t made an offer or at least shown more interest in them than at the application stage. So I think this point you are making is not sufficient to convince people that they shouldn’t worry about it. And spreading incorrect info about the likelihood that something could happen is harmful to people who are trying to assess their risk in these situations.

              Reply
              1. Tau

                Never to mention that the risk doesn’t actually have to be very high if it becomes a matter of course for companies to ask for and store your personal data up-front with an application, considering how many applications most people send off while job-hunting. Hundreds of companies could end up with your personal information in their databases that way – and it only takes one breach.

                Reply
        2. BRR

          It seems like you want to reduce applicants overall and bad candidates. I’m not convinced consenting to a background check with your application does that. My employer ends every posting that the candidate is required to pass a background check and has a link to what the check entails. I don’t see why that doesn’t’ work.

          “Often enough, it is because I want to see how the interviewee responds to the demand. This is the same thing that you are doing, when you demand that they interview you first without the information. ”

          Not really, it sounds like you’re playing with your prey. On the less information side of this, we’re not seeing what they do, we don’t’ want to give information due to identity theft. It’s a reason for us, not a game.

          Reply
          1. BRR

            Oh I want to add, it’s likely not leaving only great candidates. You might find people for positions but I bet you’re missing out on a lot of great candidates.

            Reply
            1. Tinker

              I think it’s got to be said here — define “great”. For a lot of places that would be things like — talented, productive, creative, etc. Other places, “great” is more like “indistinct boundaries”, “easily intimidated”, “doesn’t feel like they have other options” and the like. If you’re dealing with a place where someone who has marketable skills and reasonable confidence in them will either not accept the offer or will run for the hills (and get there) once they find out what the deal is, it makes sense — as Employment Lawyer says — to screen such people out early.

              Same deal as, like, the tactics used by certain pick-up artists and the like. Can you insult the person and have them continue to interact with you? Can you invade their personal space? Can you touch them without their permission? If so, they may be receptive to the set of tactics you intend to use and it’s worth pursuing them further. If not, disengage and move on.

              Reply
              1. No Longer Passing By

                I see you, Tinker!!! You are absolutely right about the psychological pre-grooming at play in the hiring process….

                Reply
          2. Ask a Manager Post author

            Yeah, if I got the sense an employer was playing that kind of game, I’d run the hell away.

            I suspect Employment Lawyer’s response to that is that that’s fine, that’s how the market works. But it’s true for lots of great candidates, because they have options. And smart employers do not want to chase off their best candidates over something so easily fixable.

            Reply
            1. BRR

              It reminds me of those “edgy” articles where odd interview tactics are spread. Like a CEO who asked all candidates to drive somewhere to see how well they took direction and how well they could multi task by answering questions while driving. Or Google and their questions and how they subsequently dropped them.

              To me it seems Employment Lawyers is overwhelmed by the number of applicants (which I can imagine happens for many positions) which includes a large number of poor candidates. Where we start to disagree is that EL sees it as bad candidates aren’t applying when this system is used while others (myself included) see it as good candidates aren’t applying.

              And I apologize for putting so many words in EL’s mouth, I’m hoping I inferred correctly.

              Reply
            2. No Longer Passing By

              Personally, I want smart people rather than yes men. I want someone who may tell me that I’m wrong.

              Reply
        3. neverjaunty

          The company doesn’t want to spend a ton of time on knowing whether you’re a good fit for the culture, if you indicate up front that you are one of those folks who feels like they want to control the interaction.

          Wait, make up your mind. First you say that employees should be the ones asking what measures the employer will take to secure and handle their personal data appropriately, and now you’re scolding those employees for being uppity – which is exactly the point AAM made to you.

          When you are screening to see how those employees react, you are forgetting that they are also screening you. And you are screening out employees who are at the top of what you want – because those employees do in fact have competition for their labor.

          Reply
          1. Steve G

            +1. Also evaluating fit doesn’t = being in control of the interaction.

            Also, there are some jobs where you are more in control of the interaction. For example, a Sales Coordinator role that involved light sales and customer/partner interactions and field visits that I once had. I was definitely more in a position of power during that interview. A few people quit being in the role short-term. It was a low-level but a hard job. The employer actually didn’t have their pick of candidates, and it was definitely the type of process where they asked “would you be comfortable doing X” and didn’t want me to just say yes, but wanted me to think about it and give an honest answer.

            Reply
            1. Steve G

              And pertaining to the OPs question, I had had a DUI arrest 2 years prior but still was hired, so doing a background check first wouldn’t have changed things.

              Reply
        4. Original Poster

          1. Which brings me back to, how do I do more evaluation of a company that won’t conduct an interview prior to release of confidential information? Of course I Google’d the company and the hiring manager, checked out LinkedIn profiles and visited Glassdoor, but nothing truly helps a candidate understand the organization like a personal interview.

          2. There’s the rub–being “almost certain” that they are not running the screening up front. It seems like common sense to you, and had the hiring manager indicated that they were merely seeking consent and were not going to proceed, I might have had a different reaction. Unfortunately, she did not give me near certainty that this was the case.
          2(a). I agree about “over-rejecting,” but I typically do it at the application level and only invite in those candidates who have passed a phone screening. Secondly, the person who manages the position generally has a better feel for the day-to-day needs of the position than an owner who may be removed from daily operations and, in some cases, may not have even created the job description for the position.
          2(b). If a company is willing to invest several hundred dollars of both processing fees and administrative time, they can take the initial 1/2 hour up front to do a face-to-face interview. If they are utilizing the initial time investment well, then they are saving themselves greater cost later.

          3. Screening for personality and deception — I understand the needs of the screening process. First of all, employment verification can be instantaneous if a company elects to e-verify, so I am in no way buying the argument that this is about verifying eligibility of employment. Secondly, there are very few jobs and industries when asking about someone’s credit would be relevant, but, assuming that it is, that’s why offers are generally contingent on results of screenings. Nothing in your argument would preclude an employer waiting for the “finalist” candidates or even rescinding an offer. On a personal note, I’d like to add that I work in a high turnover industry and process many background screenings for minimum wage applicants, and the amount of people who lie on applications is negligible. Generally speaking, when we get to the point of authorizations to run backgrounds, candidates are usually very candid. It’s rare that someone will attempt to hide something when they understand the objective of the screening.

          Reply
          1. Stranger than fiction

            So you’ve interviewed in California without providing this? I’m baffled by this concept I’ve literally had to do this at every interview as far back as I can remember. again I’m not in management my background is customer service sales support and admin type roles

            Reply
            1. Original Poster

              Yes. This is the first time I’ve encountered this in 15+ years. I’ve had criminal background checks, including fingerprinting, but it was always after an offer of employment.

              Reply
    10. neverjaunty

      So, why isn’t the employer explaining to candidates up front how the data will be secured, what happens to it if they’re not hired, and that references will only be contacted at the last minute, especially the current ones? Why do you think the employer should just let applicants guess, or weigh the risk of being seen as high-maintenance and sabotaging their employment by finding out what should be basic information?

      If we’re talking about what “makes sense”, an employer with the best of intentions following your script would want to assure candidates of all of those things up front. First, because having best practices will protect them from legal violations and lawsuits based on a data breach; perhaps more importantly, because then the employer does not risk qualified candidates saying “Nah, I think I’ll go to your competition, which doesn’t ask me to hand over the keys to my life before they’re serious about hiring me.”

      Reply
      1. Another HRPro

        I think that is a very valid point. Given data security concerns, it would be great for employers to include information on how they will safeguard your data.

        Reply
      2. Tinker

        Because it’s a screening tool. I mean, it’s pretty much right there in black and white — the point isn’t the information, the point is to see how willing the candidate is to provide it. In this case, with very little knowledge of the company and what it is offering, without an immediate purpose for the use of the information, and without an explanation of how or whether the data will be kept from being used improperly. Applicants who respond to that are desirable; ones who pass on the deal are not.

        (Nothing says you’ve GOT to have the best of intentions, after all.)

        I’d like to assume that people wouldn’t intentionally screen for the properties implied by that particular test, but a fairly good-sized body of knowledge indicates it’s not completely unknown.

        Reply
        1. neverjaunty

          I agree with you, and it’s pretty clear from EL’s comments that is, in fact, what she’s screening for – applicants so disempowered that they’ll comply with a stupid and risky demand. But what I was replying to were the original comments where she was claiming it’s “reasonable” for an employee to simply ask ‘hey, how are you going to keep my data secure’ in defense of this employment practice.

          In the legal field we call this ‘disingenuous’.

          Reply
    11. Marcela

      The idea that the hiring manager would be able to me exactly how secure my data is is even more bloody ridiculous. I can see pretty well that asking for this info make sense for some employers. But only for lazy, delusional and inconsiderate ones, those not willing to see the candidate has a lot to lose if that info is obtained from even just one person with bad intentions or that there is no way to completely secure a database with data, even following the best practices. Given the risks for the candidate, his/her protection trumps the employer’s convenience. It should not be that hard to understand, considering one has a bit of empathy.

      Reply
    12. No Longer Passing By

      I understand your point but if you watch a few webinars from background screening companies, you will see that policy opens companies up to a lot of potentially expensive policies. The landscape has changed.

      Reply
  13. Natalie

    You know, data protection aside, I question that this is truly more efficient in the first place.

    In my experience, the finalist is contacted before all of this stuff if done anyway. No one wants to pay to run a background check on someone only to find out you can’t come to terms on salary, or they accepted a job 2 days ago while you’ve been waiting a week to get check results back. I just plain don’t believe that it is actually more efficient to get the consent then versus printing out five forms, checking each one to make sure it’s complete, filing it securely (dear god, I hope so), and then pulling it out once you’ve selected a finalist and probably contacted them anyway about other matters.

    Reply
    1. Elizabeth West

      Excellent point. The interview-to-hire process takes so long sometimes, it’s entirely feasible that the candidate would have moved on by the time an employer gets back to them. I had two employers contact me during my first week on this job, and I had applied to them several months before!

      Reply
      1. Steve G

        And there is an article on Bloomberg today: “It Now Takes Almost Twice as Long to Get Hired as It Did in 2010.”……..

        Reply
  14. NoCalHR

    I work for an untraditional non-profit (property management & services). We ask for SSN/DoB/previous employment/education/references/etc. *after* a conditional offer has been accepted, in order to do a background check and a drug screen of all applicants, before they start work. Depending on the position, a pre-employment physical may also be required.

    Credit checks were limited to managers and the accounting team until recently, when several departments starting accepting credit cards and checks. Now anyone hired in who will handle cash/credit will be subject to the credit check as well.

    Reply
      1. Apollo Warbucks

        I think NoCalHR means after applicants have been offered a job but before they start work, not people who have just applied for a job.

        Reply
          1. Apollo Warbucks

            Good point, there’s little need for drug testing that I can see. I just assumed they were relatively common in the US, is that not the case?

            Reply
            1. katamia

              It’s common for a lot of retail and some lower-level jobs as well as jobs in certain industries, but I wouldn’t say it’s common in the US overall. Actually, I don’t think I even had to do a drug test for one of my retail positions, although that was seasonal so they may not have cared as much.

              Reply
            1. Kfish

              I work in Australia. The idea of getting a drug test for a job that doesn’t involve the cops or the Army is … bizarre. Nobody I know has ever had to do one to get a job.

              Reply
      2. Mel in HR

        I can’t speak for NoCalHR, but we do drug screens (also after a contingent offer) as employees will be driving company vehicles. We also do randoms screens to reduce the risk to themselves and others.

        Reply
        1. Another HRPro

          Same for my company. Where we do most of our hiring we are providing those employees with company cars or asking them to operate heavy machinery. Because of this, we have a no-drug policy for current employees (and do testing – random or for cause) and all candidates that accept a job offer have to pass a drug test within a defined window of time.

          Reply
        2. Meg Murry

          All the companies I have worked for pretended that the reason was for things like driving company vehicles or working with hazardous chemicals, but in reality I suspect it boils down to 1 of 3 reasons (or a combo of the 3):
          -Our insurance company offers us a better rate (either health, life, workman’s comp, disability or some combo of the above) if I do random drug screens (and oh, by the way, the insurance company also recommends a drug screening company offering a discounted rate, my oh my isn’t that convenient)
          -Having a zero tolerance policy on the books is another way to fire people without having to go through a drawn out PIP process or offer severance packages during layoffs.
          -A mistaken belief that employees that use any illegal drugs are lesser employees or slackers in some way, or that they would show up to work under the influence.

          Those reasons were admitted to be my the COO/Head of Finance at one of my last jobs. It was well known that the “random” drug screens were not very random, and that they tended to ramp up in frequency just before there were any layoffs.

          Reply
        3. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)

          Personally, I’d be more concerned about the functional alcoholic or the person with chronic insomnia driving the company vehicles than the person who had a joint at a party on the weekend. Do you screen for those?

          Reply
      3. Traveler

        I thought it was a condition for a place where you worked with federal money – whether through grants or contracts.

        Reply
      4. Malissa

        I would also guess that this kind of non-profit is involved in government regulations and may have to drug screen because of that.

        Reply
  15. A good old canuck

    I once applied to a Temp Agency and they requested me to consent to a credit check. I had worked with other temp agencies and I had never been asked to consent to credit checks. This was at an initial interview with a recruiter and I had no idea what a credit check had to do with obtaining temp work. When I inquired about why they were asking for this information the only response I got was well “50 % of the companies we work with require a credit check”, they could not articulate what value a credit check added to my ability to do a job. Because it was a temp agency I had no idea how often my credit would be checked (i.e. would it be checked once, monthly, every time a temp job requires a credit check). I’m in Canada, I don’t know how it works in other countries, but here every time your credit score is pulled, you get dinged in the form of slightly reducing your credit score. I knew that my credit was already not good (I had a lot of job changes, inconsistent income and struggling with depression during that time period) and I wasn’t about to let some temp agency have a chance at further damaging my credit. I refused to sign the consent or even complete the form (there was also another form that was optional and I refused to sign that one as well). When I told the recruiter I was refusing to sign these two papers, you could see the surprise on her face. Seriously, it looked like I was the first person she had ever encountered that actually read the paperwork that was required and refused to sign over basically a blanket consent to do a credit check. The rest of the interview was basically me just verbally reviewing the information that was already on my resume. I left the meeting about an hour later with the knowledge that I would never accept a job from them and pretty certain that the company would never call me for a possible job.

    They never called, I was not disappointed.

    Reply
    1. Steve G

      This is why I avoid agencies like the plague, I had too much of this BS in 2007-2009 and all I ever got was one job where they lied about how many hours I’d get and I quit the first day. I’ll never understand how it is efficient for them to get all of this info that they aren’t going to use. I guess they like busy work?

      Reply
  16. Mel in HR

    My boyfriend was applying for a city job and they not only told him he had to fill out a background release form, but also an I9 in which they specified he needed to bring in his Driver’s License and Social Security Card for. Obviously as an HR person, my head was ready to explode. I told him not to complete the background form OR the I9 and highlighted the sections on the Form I9 that specifies that it is only for when you are hiring someone and you CANNOT ask for specific forms of ID. I couldn’t believe that the city could get away with such practices.
    I can understand that it saves time on the back-end, but there is no justifiable reason to keep every applicants personal information and open yourself up to that kind of liability. I personally don’t even like that I have to have my employee’s information like that!

    Reply
    1. No Longer Passing By

      0.o Was this a subcontracted job or directly a city job? Because that’s such a clear violation that I can’t believe that any municipality would to that. Wow….

      Reply
  17. Melanie

    I thought it was illegal to pull a credit check for an individual for a non-finance position? I used to work in an HR role back in the day at an insurance company and I remember when we had to change our policies and could no longer request credit checks if they weren’t going into a financial selling role or a role handling money. Maybe things changed? I wouldn’t want to give any company all that information until they made an offer.

    Reply
    1. Natalie

      It’s not directly illegal (except in a few states) but it is one of those practices that the EEOC warns employers about. If your pulling credit unnecessarily, and it has an adverse affect on applicants due to a protected class, then it may be considered to be discriminatory.

      Reply
      1. Natalie

        Dur, that should be “it has an adverse affect on applicants *from* a protected class”, not due. The two things don’t need to be directly related for the EEOC to tell you to stop unless you can make a business case.

        Reply
    2. Chicken

      It depends on the state and the job- California limits the use of credit checks for most employment, but there are exceptions for managers, people who have access to sensitive data, and a few more categories.

      Reply
    3. No Longer Passing By

      NYC recently passed legislation banning credit checks except in extremely limited situations. Even applies to financial industries

      Reply
  18. Case of the Mondays

    I operate under the assumption that my data is out there anyway since I have already been part of so many hacks. Federal government, Blue Cross, Target, Home Depot to name a few. At this point, I just give my info when asked and monitor my credit and accounts carefully. I agree though that the process should change so you don’t have to have all of this information out and about everywhere.

    Reply
    1. Stranger than fiction

      Yes exactly and how about rental apps and car loan apps? Can’t tell you howany times I’ve filled out a rental app only to be told the owner pulled the listing they went with someone without a dog or whatever

      Reply
    1. Stranger than fiction

      Doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen! How would you know ? They’ll just sent you the canned we went with another candidate email

      Reply
      1. Natalie

        You actually can’t just pull it for anyone. You have to tell them ahead of time, explain which exception your position fall under, and tell them that it will be used in your decision making process. Not foolproof, I’m sure, but better than nothing.

        Reply
  19. Ray

    I recently completed an online application at a major medical institution. They asked if I had a disability and provided answers that I could check. I felt it was quite invasive – some of their answers included obsessive compulsive disorder and major depression! I’m sure they’ve worked out the legalities of this but I was certainly taken aback.

    Reply
    1. Chrissi

      Both of which are covered by ADA which means they (most likely) can’t base a hiring decision on that, so why take the risk of asking? I don’t think you can argue that having had major depression prevents you from being able to complete the core functions of the job, so they can’t take it into account when hiring. Am I right on that?

      Reply
    2. Tau

      I applied to a company a while ago that had a bunch of demographic questions – gender, sexual orientation, disability, race, etc. – with the note that “decline to state” was an option for all of them. Except that it wasn’t for disability, it was a mandatory drop down with “yes” and “no” as the only choices. I, figuring I had other options and ready to make a stand on principle, actually went and contacted the help e-mail address for the form to complain about this! Now I’m realising it could have been worse – at least it didn’t require me to list the type of disability I had.

      Reply
  20. Lisa McS

    My company does background (criminal, not financial) and reference checks as part of our hiring process, so our application asks for SSN and DoB, as well as a signature saying its ok to conduct said check. I’ve had interviewees not provide the information because they want to wait until closer to the end of the process, and that’s fine. (Its a hassle if we want to put them in our final sort, but its fine). So a company that doesn’t take the interview process seriously because they don’t have SSN/DoB is a BIG red flag for me.

    An, FWiW, the info is only on hardcopy, which then lives in my (locked) cabinet until I shred it, or add it to the newly-hired employees file.

    Reply
      1. Apollo Warbucks

        I think Lisa is saying if the comapny refuse to take the interview process seriously because a candidate doesn’t want to provide the information to early then it is a red flag agaisnt the company.

        Reply
          1. Apollo Warbucks

            It says something about either the managers attitude or comapny culture, if the company isn’t prepared to have a two way conversation about a reasonable request and don’t care how many good candidates they scare off they’re not showing that they want to find the best candidate just the person most willing to jump through their hoops. Better candidates will have options and go else where.

            Reply
  21. penny

    I’m surprised no one has commented on them asking for DOB (unless I missed it on my little phone screen). Seems like they make themselves an easier target of EOE claims/lawsuits by having a document with the DOB on it because you can’t claim you didn’t know the age of accusations are made. We do have candidates do a background form,but they only provide DOB to the party we outsource to if we move forward with them and we have no access to it. Also having SSN with DOB seems more risky than 1 piece for identity theft.

    Reply
  22. Stranger than fiction

    I’m all for coming up with a better way but this is just so prevalent a and normal to me. I’m super curious how Alison and others go about asking for the info further in the proceed, isn’t that a dead giveaway your’re about to make an offer? And as I said earlier what about all the other types of apps we fill out? How many times do people apply for car loans and then change their mind or get a better deal down the street? The only time I remember refusing to give more info was on a place I wanted to rent and that was because in addition to the regular app the owner wanted bank statements and tax returns so I was like no way that’s excessive

    Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      You just say, “You’re a finalist for this position. At this stage in the process, we’d like your permission to do a background check, which will consist of…”

      It’s not really a dead giveaway that you’re about to make an offer any more than reference-checking is. (And if you are about to make an offer and the person surmises that, that’s not really a problem anyway.)

      Reply
      1. Stranger than fiction

        I get that, I was more curious if you get their ssn over the phone then or do they have to e-sign something giving you permission?

        Reply
    2. Natalie

      In my experience, at least, you usually get the offer and talk salary, etc, BEFORE the reference check anyway. They’re not free, and no one wants to do them for candidates that might have found other jobs, or wants twice as much as you can pay.

      Reply
  23. College Career Counselor

    The “if you have nothing to hide, it’s no big deal” argument makes me crazy. I don’t know anything about company X and how they secure their data, or IF they secure their data, and that’s the problem.

    Bottom line, if you’re not willing to give YOUR social security number to an applicant, I don’t see why they should be willing to give you theirs at the fill-out-the-application stage.

    Nor does this stuff end once the applicant is employed. At a college I worked for previously, there was an old-fashioned data breach, ie, someone BROKE IN to the HR office and got access to all kinds of personnel records and confidential information, including home addresses and social security numbers of a variety of employees. While that college was apparently mostly concerned with possible future identity theft, it certainly wasn’t beyond the realm of possibility that this particular thief might decide to case your actual house.

    Reply
    1. Another HRPro

      If you do not trust the company enough to provide your personal information you probably should not work there because as an employee they will have this information.

      Reply
      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        It’s not that. It’s that it’s taking an unnecessary risk to provide it to every job you apply/interview for, rather than just those where you’ve established mutual interest and are a finalist.

        I mean, you’ll probably share that info with your spouse too. But would you want to provide it for every first date?

        Reply
        1. Katie the Fed

          I actually have a friend whose now-wife took a cell phone picture of his driver’s license when he showed up for his first date. She sent it to several friends in case anything happened to her.

          Somehow he ended up marrying her, but that’s a little…different.

          Reply
          1. Elizabeth

            It is something I have been seeing as being recommended for several years now. I have a vague memory that it may have do saved a woman who was kidnapped on a Craig’s List hookup.

            Reply
          2. No Longer Passing By

            I’ve done that — taken pictures of the drivers license of some random that a friend was trying to”hook up” with. I need to know who to identify if I need to call the police!!

            Reply
      2. neverjaunty

        As an employee I will receive a paycheck. Does that mean as a job applicant, the company should give me money since they’d do so if they hired me anyway?

        Reply
  24. Oh Anon

    I came across a company, just yesterday, demanding this type of consent to even apply to an opening with them. I didn’t apply.

    Reply
  25. RO

    Any job that requires too much information is a pass for me. I was interested in a company and in addition to SSN and DL, they also wanted all your addresses for the past 10 years.

    I already work in said industry and the number of times I see personal identifying information sitting on a desk indefinitely is disturbing. One time I asked for a report and the person who ran the report gave me all personal information, including any family info (mother’s maiden name).

    Reply
  26. No Longer Passing By

    Not the OP. This was an interesting discussion. I’ve missed the past few open threads and was going to ask about background check policies and timelines. You saved me the effort! Thank you all!

    Reply
  27. vox de causa

    Isn’t it becoming more common to give applicants a heads-up that they may get a background check, and then if the company wants to move forward with them, they email the applicant a link to a secure site where they can provide their information? That way the hiring manager doesn’t have a chance to be careless with personal information (unless/until an offer is made and accepted).

    Reply
  28. Vicki

    I’d never heard of “Ban The Box”. Interesting. Apparently CA is a public sector “ban the box” state, just not (yet) private sector. San Francisco went to private sector (yeay us).

    Interesting topic…

    Reply
  29. ITPuffNStuff

    feels like this speaks volumes about the business and how they view employee relationships. if it’s overly invasive from day 1, it’s always going to be that way. if the management won’t offer even a modicum of consideration to employees, even to the extent they may be eliminating the best candidates from their hiring pool (let’s face it — the best candidates have options, and therefore don’t have to put up with nonsense), presume that is how they will handle every interaction going forward.

    Reply
  30. Curt

    I hate companies that do this. It should be illegal! I quit my career in IT partly because of this commi practice. Now employers are doing it for almost any job, cashier, call center, auto parts etc.. This practice discriminates against the American people. I find it stunning that these hypocrites at large Financial companies outsource their call centers to 3rd world countries (Big surprise ID Theft & Fraud is the largest crime on the planet) and have no problems hiring illegals, but if you’re American and want a job…. Look out & be prepared to bend over. Employers across the country have no problems showing you the door for almost any reason. This country is on a downward spiral and I’m wondering when its going to hit bottom… Also I would advise to anyone that has been denied employment to request a copy of the FBI background check, they are required to provide you a copy if you request one.. Mine showed I died 23+ years ago and had a false arrest record on there that cost me a job…. What’s worse is the FBI WILL NOT REMOVE ANYTHING ON THEIR DATABASE!! FOR ANY REASON. Good luck everyone…

    Reply
  31. Zmowery@aol.com

    I am having the same concern. I have applied for a position and an interview has been scheduled. Now I am requested to complete a background check form prior to interview. I have no criminal or credit issues and I would be happy to complete after I have interviewed and have decided that the fit is right for both parties. If I am being considered as a finalist for the opportunity, I would be submit the required background check information. Just because a person applies for a job is not indicative that they are sure that they want the job. It just seems so irrational to me and having a difficult time wrapping my head around this! I would prefer to have the opportunity to interview first to see if I actually am interested in the company environment, culture, more specific information regarding the position, etc… If I do not complete the form then I will not be able to proceed with the interview. It seems unfair that an applicant is being asked to provide information which could have the potential to be compromised with a security breach. I reach out to those in the legal profession to see if laws can be changed to have the applicants information protected until entering negotiations for a final round. Thank you.

    Reply

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