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I'm applying for a programmer's job in Taiwan at a new startup (with foreign investment) that doesn't yet have a website. The first stage of the hiring process consists of completing a simple pilot project and sending in the undergraduate transcript.

In the past, I have had HR ask me to write down the contact information of any one manager and one co-worker who knew my work ethics before the interview began. At the time, I was inexperienced and eager to switch jobs, so I gave them, a competitor of the company I was working for (there was no non-compete agreement), the information without getting the consent of those two first, and without regard to the possibility that they might use it for staff poaching.

Another story involved the HR at a different company requesting me to fill out the new hire employee information, which had a required field asking for my parent's national identification number. I was uneasy with this and inquired the HR why they needed it and if it was mandatory. The reply was that the form hadn't been updated for a long time and that column was just a formality and not a requirement.

There seems to be a tendency among employers to ask for more information than necessary from their employees/candidates, and few even had a policy detailing how they use and retain that data. Hence this question.

How can I push back on a prospective employer's request for sensitive information during the pre-employment process, that I might be willing to give them if I were to accept an offer of employment, in a way that offers me the best chance to still get that potential offer?


P.S. It would be nice to also have answers that detail the need for sensitive information (e.g. national ID number for tax filing purpose, upon hire) so I know where the employers are coming from when they make those requests, that they're not just a "formality".

  • @Gao so are you uneasy with anything they have asked you now on the startup you are applying? – DarkCygnus Oct 12 '17 at 15:43
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    Sounds like you already have the answer - ask why they need it. But it's a good question to post because it's a pretty relevant and important issue, IMO. This is a very widespread issue, not just specific to this company, so I'm voting to re-open. – PoloHoleSet Oct 12 '17 at 15:49
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"How can I push back on a prospective employers request for sensitive information during the pre-employment process?".

I've been called in for an Interview (a few times) at a specific time and upon arrival been confronted with a stack of forms I was to complete prior to my appointment (obviously intending to make the appointment late).

I simply explained that I had another interview scheduled after this and I couldn't spend additional time not scheduled for; they replied to simply start and the person would be with me shortly.

Well, they were not and obviously delayed with the intent that I would be filling out the forms. Eventually the person showed up to ask if I'd finished (clearly I had not) and I explained again about the other interview. That's no concern of theirs was the reply so I folded up the forms, approached them and said thank you for seeing me; placing the forms in my pocket and leaving.

I didn't get the job but I could see on my website that management and others had accessed my webpage after I left, and days later.

It turned out that they continued to advertise for the position for over a year more.

So the moral of the story is don't give in to unreasonable demands as it doesn't affect the likelihood of you getting a job that anyone would want.

When employers want too much they should establish that the conditions are luxurious or the pay is too much.

You don't want to be subjected to giving up your password to your Social Accounts after your hired or asked for your mother's maiden name (needed to apply for a duplicate set of ID for you).

I have found that in the past when I gave out resumes enmass to everyone who asked that there were people snooping around the house shortly thereafter. It's like they were fishing for information on people rather than being a legitimate but anonymous business (AD in the Newspaper).

Nowadays if I can't drop by and take a look at the place I'm not giving out any information.

There's too many places that need qualified people and hire on a handshake without messing around. You can be hired in a few days instead of a few months and be making good money instead of being tested to see what you'll put up with.

If everyone says no to things that are too much then they'll have to rethink their policy. It might be common practice there that you do everything without question, in that case (like Yoda says) "Do or do not".

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How can I push back on a prospective employers request for sensitive information during the pre-employment process, that I might be willing to give them if I were to accept an offer of employment, in a way that offers me the best chance to still get that potential offer?

I would be honest and phrase it similar to how you asked here. You can politely say that sharing certain information makes you uncomfortable, or that you are not in full rights to disclose that information. If it is on a written form you can ask someone if it is required for you to fill that field as you did on your past experience.

If they insist on it, you can then politely push back again and also present the alternative, something in the lines of: "See, I really feel uncomfortable sharing that information now, is there any problem if I provide it later when we have a more established agreement?", or in the case of private/company information, "I am not sure if I am allowed to share that information freely, can I provide it later once I get clearance to do so?".

Just keep in mind that as you decided not to share that information with them so can they decide to end the recruitment process, so make sure you really can/want not share that information.

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You should certainly push back on anything you don't feel comfortable with, at minimum by asking why it is needed or potentially why it is needed now.

But you should also be aware that a fair amount of "sensitive" information will be needed by most employers before they offer you a job. If you aren't willing to provide it, they are free to move on and end your application process.

  • Immigration status, do they need to sponsor a visa or pick up sponsorship
  • Reference checks, they're going to need to talk to your references before extending an offer, you might push that off until later in the process
  • Background checks may require id information
  • Do you need relocation? could be sensitive if you don't want them to know where you live but necessary if you want relocation
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Should I comply and send them my unofficial transcript in PDF format before I get an interview? This comment from a different question says no; if so, should I just tell them my GPA in the email and assure them that photocopies of my transcript and diploma will be provided at the interview? Should they even keep those copies after the interview? I'm not worried if I get this job or not; I just want a reasonable list of data the employers are entitled to have at various stages of the hiring process without seriously infringing on my privacy.

Within the confines of what local laws permit, a potential employer can ask anything.

You, of course, can choose to provide the requested data or not. And if you aren't worried about getting the job, you can lean far to the "not" side if you so choose.

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