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What are Fair Chance Hiring Practices?

The truth is – we all make mistakes. And most of us learn and grow from those mistakes and get a chance to start over. Fair chance hiring practices help potential candidates do just that, start over. But as an employer, it’s up to you to know precisely how Fair Chance Hiring Practices work and how they can benefit your business. Here’s everything you need to know about Fair Chance Hiring Practices. 

What are Fair Chance Hiring Practices?

Fair Chance Hiring Practices encourage employers to focus more on a candidate’s skill level and aptitude for the role rather than past discrepancies like criminal marks. Fair chance hiring practices help eliminate employer bias from the hiring process. Imagine these two scenarios. Scenario A: An employer conducts a background check and knows that a candidate has a checkered criminal history before the interview due to data from the application process. In this scenario, you’re more likely to disqualify the candidate due to the candidate’s past. 

Scenario B: You interview a candidate based entirely on their technical skill and history in the job field. And you find the candidate to be a perfect fit, and only after learning this do you make an offer. After conducting a background check, you find out the candidate has a relatively harmless criminal offense from years ago. Would you hire the candidate? 

Whether or not you answer yes or no to that question is irrelevant. What does matter is that the candidate got a fair chance at the position, and you got to get a better look into what your business needs from a technical standpoint.

The History of Fair Chance Hiring

Fair chance hiring practices go back to 1998 when Hawaii became the first fair chance hiring state to officially ban asking about criminal history during the initial application process. Fair Chance Hiring is often called “ban the box” due to applications having a checkbox asking if an applicant has a criminal history. Today, over 30 states practice Fair Chance Hiring, with even more on the way. A key sign of a lasting business is its ability to change with the times or, better yet, predict them. That means even if you don’t live in a fair chance hiring state, you can get ahead of the curve.

Fair Chance Hiring Practices

Primarily, Fair Chance Hiring Practices revolve around not asking a candidate about their criminal history in the initial stage of the hiring process. Only after a candidate passes the interview stage and an employer decides they’re qualified from a skill-based standpoint can criminal history be deemed relevant.


Implementing Fair Chance Hiring practices involves training recruiters to avoid specific topics during outreach. It’s more than just banning the box on the applications. Recruiters cannot ask or allude to the applicant’s criminal history. Additionally, postings for the job are highly encouraged to state in clear terms that the employer practices Fair Chance Hiring. 


Once an offer of employment is made, the employer may consider an applicant’s criminal history. However, any arrests without conviction cannot be considered as the individual is still legally innocent. Furthermore, fair chance hiring practices state that all convictions and their severity must be weighed against the applicant’s job worthiness. This is to say that simply finding a conviction isn’t enough to disqualify an applicant. For example, a person whose only speeding ticket is ten years prior could still qualify as a driver. 


From a hiring standpoint, retention is essential to the longevity of a business. Keeping a good employee costs less than hiring and onboarding a new one. (Not to mention sorting through bogus resumes. Yikes!) With Fair Chance Hiring Practices, your pool of potential candidates increases. Furthermore, studies show that candidates who rely on Fair Chance Hiring Practices have retention rates as high as 43%. And considering that job-hopping (the concept of switching jobs based on pay and convenience) is at an all-time high in younger generations, retention is becoming increasingly important. 

Leveraging KarmaCheck

KarmaCheck lets you conduct in-depth background checks for every potential candidate. In turn, you get a clearer picture of who you’re hiring and their aptitude for any given role. This also means that for candidates with a record, you can consider their crime and how it would impact your business. For example, a potential employee may have served time for a less-than-stellar driving record. However, that charge may have occurred years ago, and unless you work in an automotive or automotive-adjacent business, it may not impact you. However, without implementing Fair Chance Hiring Practices, the potential candidate may have been disqualified early on, and your business would miss out on hiring a quality employee. Remember, Fair Chance Hiring Practices help limit bias-based and discriminatory hiring. But KarmaCheck helps ensure that whoever you hire is suitable for the job. 


Fair Chance Hiring Practices lower unemployment and broaden your pool of potential employees. And the skill-based hiring mentality behind Fair Chance Hiring Practices ensures everyone starts on equal footing. That makes it that much easier for you to hire the right person for the job. Now that you know what fair chance hiring is, and when the time comes to conduct a background check on your ideal candidate, consider KarmaCheck as your partner. We provide reliable data that you use to make an informed decision. And the best part is, it’s never been easier to start getting the data you need, and your business deserves. Contact us and get started.


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