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How to Inform a Job Candidate They Failed Their Background Check

If you’re new to conducting employment screenings, one thing that you will learn very quickly is that not everyone comes back with a clean record. There will be job candidates who otherwise seemed well-suited to the job that will not be hired due to information or discrepancies uncovered by the background check, and it may fall to you to inform them that they aren’t getting the job.


These conversations are no one’s idea of a good time, and they can even feel cruel, depending on the circumstances. Occasionally, they can spark a confrontation. Nevertheless, such conversations are necessary, and with a little training you can help ensure that they always go smoothly.


How do you fail a background check?

Determining what results would fail a background check is one of the first decisions employers must make before screening. A background check screening policy and decision matrix will offer direction on what constitutes negative results. As an example, if a background check reveals moving violations, but driving isn’t a part of the employee’s job description, then that wouldn’t necessarily constitute a failure. These policies will define which screens should be run in accordance with the job description and what screening results would disqualify them for the job.


Getting it Right Every Time

If you’re working with a trusted, professional screening company like KRESS, your agency will offer a verification of the data returned from the screenings. This allows us a chance to manually review the results in order to reduce the risk of false-positive matches, as well as to ensure accuracy. Illegible consent forms, outdated records, or other individuals with the same name could present information that may not be correct.


Another method of verifying that the background check data is correct is to inform your employee. Through the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), job candidates have the right to dispute false or inaccurate information on their background checks. They should be made aware of these rights through the adverse action process.


Adverse Action Procedures

To tell your employee that they’ve failed their background check, you first need to make them aware that you’re considering adverse action based on the results. The FCRA specifies that you send the following information within three days of receiving the background check results:


  • A written summary of the screening results
  • A copy of the background check report
  • The background screening company’s contact information
  • A copy of their consumer rights under the FCRA
  • Your contact information


The potential employee must be given a reasonable amount of time to respond (I recommend five days) or dispute the results. If they are unable to dispute the findings or do not respond, you can move forward with adverse action, such as withdrawing the job offer or terminating the employee. This adverse action should also include:


  • Written notification that you are taking adverse action based on the results of the background check
  • The background screening company’s contact information
  • Written notification that the decision was made by the employer and no one else
  • Written notice of the employee’s right to request another copy of their report within 60 days
  • A copy of their consumer rights under the FCRA

If that sounds like a lot of work, don’t worry—KRESS can manage all of your adverse action steps for just $10 with our adverse action automation.


Don’t Be Surprised

People make mistakes—even good people. Records from our teenage/young-adult party days can sometimes still show up and affect our job opportunities. Someone who has been working for your company for decades could suddenly slip up or fall into trouble due to family or life challenges. It’s never pleasant to be the one to share bad news, but it helps to be prepared. That means deciding up front which jobs require certain background checks so you’ll know what a failed background check looks like. Then handle the situation the way the law specifies. Be consistent every time! Doing otherwise opens you up to potential liabilities that you don’t want.


KRESS Inc. helps employers navigate the difficulties of background checks and employment law in Houston every single day. If you need help or simply have a question about background checks, feel free to call us today at 888-636-3693.


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