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Q&A: Can We Conduct a Background Check If We Haven’t Done One Before?

Question:
We don’t typically do background checks, but we’re hiring a driver who will be operating a company vehicle. We want to do a background check for this position, but since we’ve never done one for anyone else, we’re worried it would look discriminatory.

Answer from Kate, SHRM-CP:

You may conduct a background check for this job even though you haven’t done one for others. You can elect to run a background check on only certain positions based on the nature of a position, but you’ll want to be consistent for all individuals in a specific position. if you only ran a check on this candidate, that could certainly appear discriminatory. Additionally, as a best practice, we recommend that background checks be done after a conditional offer of employment has been made.

In this case, it would be logical to look for and consider DUIs, traffic tickets, and any convictions related to the work the candidate would do for you. We would recommend, however, against making a hiring decision based on convictions or other information that are not relevant to the job. If you receive results that you believe would preclude an employee from working for your company, it’s very important to allow the employee to dispute the negative information before you make any decisions.

If you decide to do a background check, there are state and federal laws governing when and how they should be done, which you can learn more about on the Laws pages in the HR Support Center.

Kate has several years of experience working in customer service and quickly moved into HR. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. Kate loves to explore the country with her husband and friends. .

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