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Employers still ask applicants about criminal convictions: Survey


Most employers continue to ask candidates to self-disclose past criminal convictions on job applications, even though the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recommends against it and there are state and municipal laws that outright ban the practice, a new survey says.

According to the survey of close to 600 employers by Cleveland-based EmployeeScreenIQ, released Tuesday, 66% of employers ask candidates to self-disclose past criminal convictions on job applications, while 78% do so at some point during the hiring process.

Among other survey results, 59% of survey respondents said criminal convictions are reported on 5% or less of their background checks, while 18% said convictions are reported in 6% to 10% of their checks. EmployeeScreenIQ said this is in contrast to its own clients, who averaged a 23% criminal conviction hit rate in 2013.

It said the discrepancy could be attributable to a lack of thoroughness that some screening providers offer, and the desire of some companies to save money or expedite turnaround time by conducting less exhaustive background checks.

• Forty-five percent of employers said job candidates with criminal records are not hired because of their background 5% of the time.

• Eighty-eight percent of respondents have adopted the EEOC's guidance on the use of criminal background checks, compared with 32% who did so in a survey the firm conducted last year.

• Eight percent of employers automatically disqualify job candidates that self-disclose a criminal conviction prior to an employment background check.


• Nearly 40% of employers do not send pre-adverse action notices to candidates who are not hired based in part on a criminal conviction, which is a violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and puts organizations at risk for class action lawsuits and other legal actions.

• Sixty-four percent perform individualized assessments for candidates who have conviction records, as required by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

• Thirty-eight percent search online media for information about their candidates as part of the hiring process, with 80% of those who do so using LinkedIn for information.

• Fifty percent of respondents reject at least 90% of candidates when lies are discovered on their resume, while another 23% estimate they hire candidates only 11 % to 20% of the time when resume distortions are found.

• Just 14% of employers check the credit history of everyone whom they hire, while 57% do not use credit reports as part of their hiring process.

The survey was conducted online between mid-November and the end of January. Copies are available here.