The University of Michigan has removed questions asking job seekers about their criminal history from the application process.
This change follows the practice known as “ban the box,” an attempt to remove deterrents for job candidates and bias from the hiring and selection process. Many public and private employers in the United States have adopted similar changes to their application processes.
U-M’s application for regular and non-student temporary positions previously included the following required questions:
- “Have you ever been convicted of any misdemeanor or felony, including alcohol- or drug-related driving offenses? (Driving convictions such as operating while intoxicated in the presence of drugs, operating without a license, etc., are generally misdemeanors or felonies and should be included.)”
- “Do you have any felony charges pending?”
Answering “yes” did not automatically disqualify an applicant, but the questions themselves can deter qualified individuals from applying in the first place. In addition, the answers were available to members of the hiring team reviewing the application, potentially inviting bias into the selection process.
The university will instead ask these questions as part of the pre-employment background screening conducted after a contingent job offer has been accepted.
Information from the screening is reviewed by central human resources and shared with the hiring department only when there is significant concern about prior criminal convictions as they relate to the position.
University Human Resources provides a variety of tools and training resources to help hiring teams remove bias from their hiring and selection process.
Datapeople (formerly TapRecruit) is an augmented writing tool that helps ensure inclusive, candidate-friendly and effective job postings. Datapeople is available to employees on the Ann Arbor campus. Visit app.datapeople.io and log in using a U-M email address and create a password to use the tool.
The Unconscious Bias in Recruiting and Hiring training on the UHR website helps hiring teams minimize the impact of bias in recruitment and selection activities.
The Resources for Hiring Departments section of the UHR website has information on all aspects of the recruiting process including ways to mitigate bias.