Criminal history inquiry removed from job application form

Effective Dec. 28, Iowa State has changed when and where it asks about job seekers' criminal history. An applicant's criminal history will be addressed in the background review process after a candidate has received a contingent offer of employment. The intent is to remove bias from the selection and interview processes and encourage a broader pool of applicants based on their skills and qualifications.

Since the background check policy's inception in 2009, ISU's employment application form had contained a question about job seekers' criminal history. In addition to the application form, the applicant also discloses this information when ISU's third-party provider completes a background check.

The question:

Have you ever been convicted, received a deferred judgment or sentence, paid a fine, served probation or plead guilty or no contest of a felony or misdemeanor including traffic violations?

"This change helps remove the temptation for hiring managers to overlook an applicant because of their disclosure, without further follow up. We're removing that up-front barrier to employment," said Abi Block, assistant director of talent acquisition, university human resources (UHR). "We want to give everyone the opportunity to apply for a position and have the same principles applied to their disclosure, background check and job-related analysis of the results of that check.

"It's important for campus to know that UHR still will conduct the same background check review and analysis," she added.

The federal Fair Chance to Compete for Jobs Act, which included this so-called "ban the box" provision, took effect a year ago, though without a compliance timeline for federal agencies and contractors. Block said many federal contractors are making this change.

Applicants to some Iowa State jobs still will see the question, for example, police officers and Ames National Laboratory positions requiring federal clearances. Units that use a paper application process for student workers should review their application form and remove any criminal history questions.