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How to Conduct an Individualized Assessment

Date Published: January 12, 2022 | Last Updated: September 15, 2023 | By Suraiya Sarwar

In the last several years, more states have continued to pass fair chance hiring laws that encourage, if not require, employers to individually review each candidate’s criminal history when making hiring decisions. Any time an employment background check reveals a criminal history, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recommends conducting individualized assessments for candidates to remain fair in the hiring process.

What is an Individualized Assessment? 

An individualized assessment is a procedure for how an employer reviews criminal records for a background check. The purpose of an individualized assessment is to review an applicant’s criminal record on a case-by-case basis to determine if their criminal history is relevant to the job position.

When Should Employers Conduct an Individualized Assessment?

When criminal history is part of the exclusion criteria, an employer will need to conduct an individualized assessment.  The assessment is required any time a candidate’s criminal history potentially excludes the applicant, regardless of any other exclusionary components.

In 2012, the EEOC issued guidelines on the process of hiring based on criminal records. The guidance advised employers to consider each case for background checks individually for criminal records, as well as provide applicants an opportunity to explain their criminal history.

The EEOC has given three specific criteria for employers to consider when reviewing an applicant’s criminal history, including:

  • The nature and gravity of the offense.
  • The time passed since the offense or conduct and/or completion of the product.
  • The nature of the job held or sought.

In addition, the EEOC provides employers other factors to consider such as the number of offenses for which the individual was convicted, rehabilitation efforts, employment references, and more. Reviewing an applicant’s specific circumstances helps employers provide equal employment opportunities.

Creating an Individualized Assessment Process 

The best practice for conducting an individualized assessment includes establishing a policy and procedures that define the process and align with your organization’s adverse action process. This policy should set the standard guidelines for what the individualized assessment process looks like and should be distributed to anyone involved in the hiring decision or individual assessment process. The document should answer questions that will help you provide a thorough evaluation such as:

  • Which factors to examine on a criminal record.
  • What offenses do not affect an employment decision because of the nature of the offense?
  • The process for asking a candidate to provide context to their criminal history.
  • How to determine if the charges are relevant or not based on the job position and the candidate’s age, severity, and more.

These answers may vary by position, so a centralized individualized assessment process will help ensure consistency and compliance across your whole organization, in addition to setting a strong foundation for a better hiring process.

Learn How to Conduct an Individualized Assessment with Accurate

If you’re looking to create the perfect individualized assessment process, register for our upcoming webinar, “Ban the Box Update + Bonus Workshop: How to Conduct an Individualized Assessment”. Join Accurate Background and legal experts Pamela Devata and Jennifer Mora of Seyfarth Shaw on Wednesday, November 10th at 11 A.M. PT/2 P.M. ET for an in-depth workshop on individualized assessments, as well as the latest ban-the-box news.

Learn more by registering today.