Do biases exist in background screening or job interviews? You bet. Some biases, while not necessarily intentional, are inherent in both processes. We hear about biases at GroupOne Background Screening quite often. The reports we provide to our clients are factual and accurate, but can they still paint the wrong picture? We’ll tread softly here, but let’s look at a few biases that could possibly exist.

Criminal Records

Traditional background reports could impact candidates from certain demographics. If an employer relies almost exclusively on criminal records to define a candidate’s character, it could unfairly affect marginalized communities whose residents are more likely to have encounters with the police or the court system. It could potentially deny individuals an opportunity to rebuild their lives. Everyone deserves a second chance, and research by Kellogg and Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law found that ex-offenders who did get hired were no more likely to be fired later than non-offenders. And they were also less likely to quit, saving their companies money in turnover costs.  

Credit Checks

Credit checks can be tricky when it comes to bias, with candidates potentially being penalized due to financial hardships. For example, expensive medical bills can target lower-income individuals and impact their credit history. Remember that credit checks do not always tell the entire story. Anyone can hit a rough patch. The reality today is debt is common at any age, especially for recent college graduates.

Educational Checks

Does it matter which college a candidate graduated from? For example, you have one candidate who graduated from Harvard and the other from the Tarleton State University. Would you prefer the Harvard grad because of the school’s prestigious reputation? That is potentially biased. Educational checks can potentially favor candidates from esteemed institutions while overlooking equally qualified individuals from lesser-known schools or even non-traditional educational paths.


Such biases can deny deserving candidates’ an equal opportunity. In addition, it can impede an organizations’ ability to build a diverse and inclusive staff. Traditional background screening methods are always important, but an employer can miss out on valuable talent. To avoid such biases, employers should consider implementing practices that inspire fairness and transparency during the hiring process. Avoid blanket criteria as there’s always more to the story.

The information and opinions expressed are for educational purposes only and are based on current practice, industry-related knowledge and business expertise. The information provided shall not be construed as legal advice, express or implied.