Keep in mind that some states and local jurisdictions have “ban the box” laws, Mr. Holshouser adds, which prohibit or restrict the use of criminal history information.
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Explore This IssueApril 2016
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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has published its position that an arrest does not equal criminal conduct and such information should not be requested. The EEOC also takes the position that conviction records can be used only if the employer can prove job relatedness.
“Use arrest records for rare occasions, such as determining activity of behavior concerning fraud, theft or violence,” Mr. Lee says. Unless someone was convicted or entered a guilty plea, don’t use an arrest as a reason not to hire someone, he adds.
However, an employer could consider the conduct underlying the arrest if it makes the individual unfit for the position, Mr. Lee continues. For example, a hiring rheumatologist of a pediatric practice will have a legitimate concern if a nurse applicant has been arrested for child pornography.
Call all prior employers listed on a candidate’s job application, except the applicant’s current employer, if requested by the applicant, Mr. Holshouser suggests. He recommends sticking to questions that are legitimately job related. “Unfortunately, most employers will provide [only] neutral references (usually dates of employment, position held and ending salary) to minimize any risk of being sued for defamation,” he says. “However, some employers who provide neutral references will, if asked, advise whether the applicant is eligible for rehire. If the prior employer says, ‘no,’ or won’t answer a question, that is a red flag.”
Determining whether the information an applicant provides during the interview is consistent with what is on the employment application is critical. “If an employer finds that the applicant covered up a gap in employment or misrepresented his or her job position or pay, that is a red flag showing the applicant’s dishonesty,” Mr. Holshouser says.
Mr. Dickerson says professional references are most important when hiring rheumatologists. Get a 360º perspective on someone by speaking to a reference they provide who was in a supervisory role to them, such as a medical director or chair of a department; in a subordinate role to them, such as a staff or faculty member who reported to the candidate; and one of their peers.
Ms. Taylor always calls two to three professional references and asks both office managers and healthcare providers about a candidate’s work ethic and working relationship with staff. “If the office manager raves about them, they are usually a good pick,” she says. “If they give me one-word answers or can only verify salary and time worked, they may be holding something back. I have to read between the lines.”
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Checking an applicant’s social media information is a good idea, Mr. Holshouser says, but not without risk.