Are you a Victim of an Error in Background Screening?
A Quick Guide for Job Applicants and Employers to Deal with it
Hi my name is Tom. I am a software engineer. Recently, I got a job opportunity in one of the big software firms in Seattle. I aced the interview and bagged the offer. Though the offer was contingent on a background check, I did accept it. The last words that I heard from my interviewer were, “You’re hired, well almost. Once we are done with the background check, we’ll let you know the joining date.”
I had a pretty clean past. So, background checking wasn’t exactly I was supposed to bother about.
After waiting for about 1 week, I called back my interviewer only to discover that they were no more considering hiring me. When I asked the reason, I was told to expect a mail in a day or two explaining the same. I finally received the mail which, to my awe, went something like this –
“As of now, we’ll not be able to consider you for the profile as you didn’t make it through our background checks. Your records show that you have been reported for substance dependence in the past.”
I was taken aback. I replied to the mail same day, “I’m a professional person with numerous awards and accreditation to my luminous career. I’ve a flying credit score and I’ve never been involved in substance dependence or any criminal conduct. I would request you to re-verify my background information.”
Just imagine, this seemingly small error cost him a promising job. As per a recent survey, stories like Tom’s are on the rise.
As an employer or a job seeker, you cannot afford to overlook the question of being a victim of an error in background screening. If such a thing happens to you as a job seeker or you do it mistakenly to your candidate as an employer, here’s a quick guide to help you to go about it.
If you are the Job Applicant
1. Ask your employer to send you a formal letter detailing his action. Ideally, such a letter would inform you about the exact reason, why they did what they did. Kindly note that you are legally entitled to ask for this document.
2. Just go through the background check report and see what went wrong. If you spot the error, you should go to its source (it might be your school, previous employer, license authority, etc.). Try to get it corrected at the source.
3. Inform the employer about the discrepancy in the screening process promptly. Try to make an explanation and if asked, be ready to present any supporting documents.
4. Ideally, the employer should start a background re-verification of the information. If everything goes right, you can expect to come clean and get the job offer.
5. If the background check was done by a third-party, you can also make a request for re-verification directly to the third-party.
If you are the Employer
1. If you receive a request for re-verification of information from an applicant on the grounds of an error in his background check report, you should contact the candidate.
2. Ask him for the details and relevant documents needed to support the case.
3. Re-verify the information keeping the pain point in focus. If you find the original report to be true, you should inform the candidate and send him the re-verification result.
4. In case, you discover that there was an error at source in the original screening report, you should ask the candidate to contact the source and get it corrected. Once it is done, you should re-verify the corrected records. If the candidate comes clean, you should inform the candidate and send him the offer.
5. If the background check was done by a third-party, you should send them particulars of the disputed information and ask for a thorough re-verification.
Experts suggest that such errors might be a result of background screening professionals over-relying on automated systems for performing the checks. To make sure there is no slip in the screening process, employers need to adopt stringent and consistent employment verification practices and at the same time, job applicants also need to ensure that their information has been used correctly. All in all, being proactive about the common lapses can go a long way to minimize such verification errors.