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From the Northeastern Section of the ACS, focusing on career management and development
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07/21/06
Pre-Interview Background check authorization
Filed under: Position Searching, Public Relations docs
Posted by: site admin @ 8:44 am

Dear Dan,

Thank you for telling me the Blog. I am reading it now.

I just received an email from Eastman Chemical Company. I sent my resume to the company two days ago to apply for an analytical chemist position. The email is about Background Check Authorization Request, which asks for my school transcripts, addresses I lived in past seven years, social security number, as well as birthday. Is it normal for companies to ask for these personal information before they interview candidates?

Thanks!

K

2 Responses to “Pre-Interview Background check authorization”

  1. site admin Says:
    See also: http://money.cnn.com/2006/07/19/pf/employee_screening/index.htm

    Hi K,

    Several suggestions to offer in response to your question:
    It is such an important question that I asked some trusted colleagues for their inputs. The consensus is that you SHOULD BE WILLING TO PROVIDE THE INFORMATION. However, there are some things to consider. They are listed at the end.

    INPUT FROM GEORGE
    This is a most interesting development regarding pre-interview disclosure of personal info as well as possible Q&A topics during site visits. I can’t comment on the legal or ethical merit or demerit of the Background Check Authorization Request. I’ve been away from Eastman for 8 years and am out of touch regarding current HR practices. However I’d bet the farm that the company’s HR follows the usual prudent industry practice, i.e., not leaving openings for lawsuits. Rarely does Eastman stray far from the ‘usual’ employment practices.

    INPUT FROM JOEL
    I’ve never heard of a company doing a background check (police records, perhaps credit) before a job offer. First of all, doing such a check costs money. Secondly, if an interview and job offer aren’t forthcoming after the background check, the company leaves itself open to a possible law suit. For example, you can’t ask someone his birthday before or during the interview process–that amounts to asking how old he is, which is a real no-no. Also, if the candidate has a minor conviction on his record, but this is immaterial to a job offer (for example, you shouldn’t ask if a candidate has ever received a speeding ticket unless having one would be material to the job), the candidate could hold that he didn’t get the job for discriminatory reasons. On the other hand, I’m not sure what is done in these days of homeland security. Perhaps Eastman is asking these questions to insure the candidate is not a security risk.

    END NOTES FROM DAN
    A recent survey by staffing firm Spherion found that 79 percent of companies said they conduct background checks on some or all job candidates, 50 percent perform drug tests and 33 percent said they perform credit checks. More than half of companies that use these screening methods also said they have increased their use of them since 2001. [CNN article]

    K, you can do some basic things. Remember, your goal is to be a really good bet [source: CNN article].
        1. Review your records. Just as you might try to boost your credit score before applying for a mortgage, you might do the same before applying for a job. 
        2. Check that there’s nothing erroneous about you in various public records. Mistaken identity is not unusual in records organized by name, since a lot of people may share the same name. You can order your own background check from public-records aggregator MyPublicInfo.com or information brokers like ChoicePoint. If there is an error — e.g. a DUI charge in a state where you’ve never been — take steps to clear it from your record. But if you can’t do so in time, alert a potential employer about the situation before a background check so he’s not alarmed to see it.
         3. Don’t let loose on the Internet.
         4. Be careful about sending personal information over the internet that can be abused.

    We hope this helps you with good information.
    Thank you for asking the question.
    Regards,
    Dan -
  2. site admin Says:

    Dear K,
    A recent item appeared in the WSJ about filling in information about salary.
    This applies more for mid-career people who have either been severed or are leaving on their own.

    Article: http://www.careerjournal.com/columnists/qnada/salaryissures/20050815-qandasalaryissues.html?cipos=home_whatsnew_major

    “Application asks for your salary, but is it better to list a range? by Perri Capell

    The article states that putting a salary range suggests that you are paid more than you currently earn. The presumption employers would see is that you wish to receive a higher salary than you currently make. It may be looked upon as misleading.

     Most larger companies hire employees contingent on passing a successful screening. the application is a leagal document. The company might learn that the numbers are spongy and inaccurate and may be grounds for termination.

    The Sarbannes-Oxley Act has formalized the rules that apply. So, be specific as possible. I don’t think you want to be starting out your career on the wrong foot with a new employer.

    They will have done their homework on fair compensation for the area in which you will be living. See the article for more information. I recommend it.

    Regards,
    Dan

    “Truth is the only safe ground to stand on.”

    -Miz Dot–

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