Shrm survey findings background checking the use of credit background checks in hiring decisions
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SHRM Survey Findings: Background Checking—The Use of Credit Background Checks in Hiring Decisions . July 19, 2012. Key Findings.

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SHRM Survey Findings: Background Checking—The Use of Credit Background Checks in Hiring Decisions

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Shrm survey findings background checking the use of credit background checks in hiring decisions

SHRM Survey Findings: Background Checking—The Use of Credit Background Checks in Hiring Decisions

July 19, 2012


Key findings

Key Findings

  • What are the most important factors influencing the final decision to hire a particular job candidate over another? The three most important factors that influence the final decision to hire one candidate over another are 1) previous work experience, 2) a good fit with the job and the organization, and 3) specific skills expertise needed for the job.

  • Do organizations conduct credit background checks on job candidates? Slightly more than one-half (53%) of organizations do not conduct credit background checks on any of their job candidates. This represents a large decrease in the use of credit background checks: in 2010, only 40% did not conduct credit background checks, and in 2004, this percentage was 39%. Thirty-four percent of organizations reported that they conduct credit checks on select job candidates and only 13% conduct credit checks on all job candidates.

  • When do organizations initiate credit background checks? Of the organizations that conduct credit background checks, most organizations initiate credit background checks after a contingent job offer (58%) or after the job interview (33%). Very few organizations (2%) initiate credit background checks before a job interview.

  • Why do organizations conduct credit background checks? The top two reasons organizations conduct credit checks on job candidates are 1) to reduce/prevent theft and embezzlement (45%) and 2) to reduce legal liability for negligent hiring (22%).


Key findings1

Key Findings

  • On which category of job candidates do organizations conduct credit background checks? Of the organizations that conduct background checks on select job candidates (34%), 87% conduct credit checks on candidates applying for positions with financial responsibilities, 42% on candidates applying for senior executive positions and 34% on candidates for positions with access to highly confidential employee information.

  • Do organizations hire job candidates whose credit reports contain information that presents their financial situation negatively? 80% of organizations reported that they have hired a job candidate whose credit report contained information that reflects negatively on the candidate’s financial situation, suggesting that negative credit information is not often a barrier to hiring.

  • How many years of credit history are organizations interested in? Overall, most organizations that use credit checks focus on credit history of two to seven years. Twenty-one percent of organizations reported that two to three years were most influential in their assessment of a job candidate’s credit standing, 27% reported four to five years were most influential, and 31% reported up to seven years were most influential in their assessment of a candidate’s credit standing. Only 6% of organizations indicated that all years of credit history were equally important, a decrease from 17% in 2010.

  • Do organizations allow job candidates to explain the results of credit checks? Yes; 64% of organizations allow job candidates to explain the results of their credit checks before the decision to hire or not to hire is made, and 28% allow job candidates to explain the results after the decision to hire or not to hire is made.


Shrm survey findings background checking the use of credit background checks in hiring decisions

In general, when making a hiring decision about a job candidate, which are the most important factors influencing the final decision to hire a particular candidate over another?

Note: Percentages do not equal 100% due to multiple response options.


Shrm survey findings background checking the use of credit background checks in hiring decisions

In general, when making a hiring decision about a job candidate, which are the most important factors influencing the final decision to hire a particular candidate over another?

Comparisons by organization sector

Nonprofit organizations are more likely than privately owned for-profit organizations to select favorable reference background check results as the most important factor influencing the final decision to hire a particular candidate over another.

  • Note: Only statistically significant differences are shown.


Shrm survey findings background checking the use of credit background checks in hiring decisions

Does your organization, or an agency hired by your organization, conduct credit background checksfor any job candidates?

Note: Respondents who answered “not sure” were excluded from this analysis.


Shrm survey findings background checking the use of credit background checks in hiring decisions

Does your organization, or an agency hired by your organization, conduct credit background checksfor any job candidates?

Comparisons by organization staff size

  • Organizations with 2,500 to 24,999 employees are more likely than organizations with 100 to 499 employees to conduct credit background checks for select job candidates.

  • Note: Only statistically significant differences are shown.


The use of credit background checks a comparative look 2012 2010 and 2004

The Use of Credit Background ChecksA Comparative Look: 2012, 2010 and 2004

42%


Shrm survey findings background checking the use of credit background checks in hiring decisions

When does your organization, or any agency hired by your organization, initiate credit background checkson job candidates?


What is the primary reason your organization conducts credit background checks on job candidates

What is the primary reason your organization conducts credit background checkson job candidates?

Note: ** Response option was not available in 2010.


Shrm survey findings background checking the use of credit background checks in hiring decisions

Has your organization ever hired a job candidate with information on his or her credit report that presented the job candidate’s financial situation negatively?

Note: n = 101. Respondents who answered “not sure” were excluded from this analysis.


Shrm survey findings background checking the use of credit background checks in hiring decisions

In general, when conducting a credit background checkon job candidates, how many years of credit history are most influential in your assessment of the job candidate’s credit standing?

Note: The data in this chart represent organizations that conduct credit background checks on select or all job candidates. Respondents were asked to round up to the highest year. Percentages do not equal 100% due to rounding.


Shrm survey findings background checking the use of credit background checks in hiring decisions

When conducting credit background checks on job candidates, in general, how many years of credit history does your organization check for?

Note: n = 45 - 49. The data in this table represent organizations that conduct credit background checks on all job candidates. Respondents were asked to round up to the highest year. Percentages may not equal 100% due to rounding.


Shrm survey findings background checking the use of credit background checks in hiring decisions

Does your organization allow job candidates, in certain circumstances, the opportunity to explain the results of their consumer report that might have an adverse effect on an employment decision (e.g., high debt, bankruptcy)?


Credit background checks conducted on select job candidates

Credit Background Checks Conducted on Select Job Candidates


On which category of job candidates does your organization conduct credit background checks

On which category of job candidates does your organization conduct credit background checks?

Note: The data in this figure represent organizations that conduct credit background checks on select job candidates. Percentages do not equal 100% due to multiple response options.


Shrm survey findings background checking the use of credit background checks in hiring decisions

In general, after conducting credit background checks, if information that presented the job candidate’s financial situation negatively were discovered, what information is MOST likely to affect your decision to NOT extend a job offer?

Note: n = 23-123. The data in this table represent organizations that conduct credit background checks on select or all job candidates. Data are sorted by the “Accounts in debt collection” column. Caution should be used when generalizing results when the sample size is less than 30 for any category. Percentages may not equal 100% due to rounding.


Shrm survey findings background checking the use of credit background checks in hiring decisions

In general, after conducting credit background checks, if information that presented the job candidate’s financial situation negatively were discovered, what information is MOST likely to affect your decision to NOT extend a job offer? (continued)

Note: n = 23-123. The data in this table represent organizations that conduct credit background checks on select or all job candidates. Data are sorted by the “Accounts in debt collection” column. Caution should be used when generalizing results when the sample size is less than 30 for any category. Percentages may not equal 100% due to rounding.


Shrm survey findings background checking the use of credit background checks in hiring decisions

When conducting credit background checkson job candidates, in general, how many years of credit history does your organization check?

Note: n = 2-122. The data in this table represent organizations that conduct credit background checks on select job candidates. Data sorted by 2012 data in the 6-7 years column.Respondents were asked to round up to the highest year. Caution should be used when generalizing results when the sample size is less than 30 for any category. Percentages may not equal 100% due to rounding.


Background information on credit background checks

Background Information on Credit Background Checks

  • Many employers conduct some kind of background check on job applicants and/or employees. Background checks may include verification of educational or professional history, contacting references, obtaining a report on an individual’s criminal history and/or obtaining a report on an individual’s credit history.

  • The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) authorizes employers to obtain a consumer report for “employment purposes” from a consumer reporting agency (CRA) so long as certain disclosure requirements are met. The term “employment purposes” means a report that is used for the purpose of evaluating a consumer for employment, promotion, reassignment or retention as an employee.

  • For some employers, credit payment records serve as a factor in evaluating an individual’s suitability for a job, while others seek information on driving records, criminal histories or other background information. All of these types of reports are considered consumer reports if they are obtained from a CRA.

  • Before procuring a consumer report, FCRA requires employers to clearly disclose, in writing, that a report may be obtained for employment purposes and get written authorization from the individual. FCRA also requires that the employer provide the individual with a copy of the report and a written description of the consumer’s rights before taking any adverse action based in whole or in part on the report.

  • The Federal Trade Commission web site has additional information on the rights and duties imposed by the Fair Credit Reporting Act at (www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/fcradoc.pdf)


Demographics organization industry

Demographics: Organization Industry

Note: n = 386. Percentages do not equal 100% due to multiple response options.


Demographics organization industry continued

Demographics: Organization Industry (Continued)

Note: n = 386. Percentages do not equal 100% due to multiple response options.


Demographics organization sector

Demographics: Organization Sector

Note: n = 386. Percentages do not equal 100% due to rounding.


Demographics organization staff size

Demographics: Organization Staff Size

n = 375


Demographics other

Demographics: Other


Background checking the use of credit background checks in hiring decisions

Background Checking—The Use of Credit Background Checksin Hiring Decisions

Methodology

  • Response rate = 19%

  • Sample composed of 544 randomly selected HR professionals from SHRM’s membership

  • Margin of error +/-4%

  • Survey fielded December 28, 2011-February 7, 2012

For more poll findings, visit www.shrm.org/surveys

Follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/SHRM_Research

Project leader:

Justina Victor, survey research analyst, SHRM Research

Project contributors:

Evren Esen, manager, SHRM Research

Mark Schmit, Ph.D., SPHR, Vice President, SHRM Research

Copy editor:

Katya Scanlan , SHRM Knowledge Center


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