View Full Version : Background Checks before an Interview

Eve Bandler
03-23-2004, 03:37 AM
Is it legal for an employer to obtain a social security number and consent to perform a background check before an interview? I understood that you could not ask for the ss # before an offer is extend and accepted, but the article, Leave No Stone Unturned, seems to indicate otherwise.


03-23-2004, 04:40 AM
I suppose you could, but why would you? You have to pay for background checks, and until you at least see if the person is suitable, why get one. Additionally, you may be required to submit the report to a person you do not hire based on an unsatisfactory background check (well, we do in MD) so I would not even go there.

There is no reason you can not have a SS# before an offer is made. You should not request age/gender/race, etc., to avoid a charge of discrimination.

Eve Bandler
03-23-2004, 04:42 AM
Thanks for your response.

The problem is the delay in receiving the information. In that time, we often lose the candidate.

I am sure I have read in many places that SSNs do not belong on a job application.

03-23-2004, 08:55 AM
You are welcome. Legally, I know of no reason to not put the ss# on an application, but possibly because of the identity theft you would not wish to have it on. This is a fairly recent issue but an important one. More and more companies are using blank space and the last four digits.

We always do a background check -- but after an offer is made. Our offer letter specifically says that hiring is contingent upon satisfactory background check and drug screen. Would that work for your company?

03-23-2004, 10:45 AM
Sounds like you need a faster background checking company. Many out there to choose from. I used a local one when I worked in Vancouver, WA and they had it back to us sometimes the same day. Usually took 24 hrs though. You can ask for SSN's on applications and many do. Whether or not you keep your applications in a secured location is the big deal (in my opinion).

Don D
03-23-2004, 11:24 AM
I certainly would not use a background verification company who could get the results back to me in one day. I'm good and I've never been able to run a good thorough background check that fast myself, and I trust me. There's no legal reason you can't do this up front if you want to. It's just expensive and not a good use of company resources.

Note: The preceeding is my personal opinion and has no value beyond that. Although it may be 'sorta offensive' or 'indeed offensive' to someone out there, it is offered without regard to that possibility. Should you find yourself alarmed by my post, you may privately mail me to protest or you may alert the principal's office. x:-)

HR in Okla
03-24-2004, 02:22 AM
The Okla. State Dept. of Health requires nursing homes to use a standardized application form for nursing assistants. It asks for SS#, birthdate, race, everything...along with a signature line authorizing the employer to do a background check. It evens spells out the offenses that would disqualify a person. We also have a similar form as an insert to our regular applications for other positions.

It states in big print that this information is being collected in accordance with Dept. of Health licensing requirements, but that the applicants are considered without regard to age, race, etc.

My assistant and I are the only ones who see that information. We separate those sheets from the rest of the applications before giving them to supervisors.

03-24-2004, 09:32 AM
Wow - your form is a discrimination lawsuit waiting to happen! What in the world would birthdate/age and race have to do with qualifying for the position?

HR in Okla
03-25-2004, 02:29 AM
Nothing at all. That's why they are separated before the hiring authority sees them. However, the state nursing home licensing act requires this information be obtained before hiring. The State has a mandatory application form we have to use. They issued it with those questions on it.

We quote the law, and put all kinds of disclaimers about how the information is not used for any purpose but background checking.

03-25-2004, 03:39 AM
LAST EDITED ON 03-25-04 AT 10:44AM (CST)[br][br]
The criminal check form we use for the PA state police asks for all that info (DOB, SSN, race, previous names). We are also required by our funding agencies to submit the criminal checks before an employee begins work.

HR in Okla
03-25-2004, 03:43 AM
Exactly. It is a criminal background check form and states that the information will be used only for that purpose.

03-25-2004, 04:47 AM
LAST EDITED ON 03-25-04 AT 11:48AM (CST)[br][br]Don - "Background check" at my last company meant criminal check, credit check (depending on position), and SSN verification. It did not mean reference check (which absolutely take more than one day...and I'm good too!).