Background Checks

I read a very interesting article written by Alison Green at a website called “Ask the Experts,” which originally appeared on “Ask a Manager.”  The essence of the piece is asking the question of whether a prospective applicant for employment should say “no” to a request to sign a release to have a background check done before even meeting the hiring manager.

Here’s the upshot of what happened, according to the prospective applicant, “I had not yet met the hiring manager, nor was I clear on the job description. When I met the hiring manager, she immediately asked me to consent to the screening. I mentioned I was not comfortable proceeding with the extensive screening process until I understood the position and company better. The manager generally answered a couple of my questions about the company, but she did not ask me any interview questions and indicated that a formal “interview” would not occur without my consent to the screening. I was caught off-guard and did my best (which, admittedly, was not great) to explain to her that I was uncomfortable disclosing the information at the time, and she politely ushered me out the door.”

Well, isn’t that a surprise!  Sometimes job seekers forget who wants what from whom.  I totally agree with the author that more and more companies want information about a prospective candidate upfront so they can move forward with a background and reference check more efficiently if the employer is interested, usually after one or more interviews, in making an offer of employment.  Asking for permission to do the background and reference checking upfront simply makes the process more efficient than asking for it later in the process.

So, is it advisable to give access to personal information to a prospective employer prior to an initial interview?  If I needed a job and wanted to move to the next step in the process – an actual interview – and didn’t want to be politely ushered to the door, you bet I’d provide it!