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A month ago I was offered, and signed a contract with a Swedish company in their German office. After that I was asked to sign a consent for background check. The consent form was for a third party elevator.

Today I was informed that the results of the background check came back as No Hire.

This rather surprised me as I have no criminal record, I stated the correct information about my previous employer. By mistake I stated the wrong date of when I changed location. The recruiter claims that neither he nor the HR person responsible have any knowledge of the results, as they are not allowed to know the reasons behind the No Hire decision according to the law.

As you can imagine I feel rather stumped by this decision, and as well confused that they cannot give me a reason for it. The recruiter mentioned I might get some information according to the new GDPR laws.

I also have a hunch that they might have found out that last year I spent a long time in the hospital and had to work reduced hours after that to recover.

My question is basically if this kind of procedure is normal, and if there is any way I can find out what caused me to fail the background check.

  • I found as part of the consent form that I have the right to access all the information gathered during the screening process I have asked them over email how to request this information. However, I don't think it would include the reason for failure. My name is very unique, I don't think there is any possibility they would have found the wrong guy. – mr509 Sep 17 '18 at 19:08
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    Until proven otherwise you will have to assume it's because you provided incorrect information by mistake. You could ask the company if you can be given a chance to address the results of the background check, but based on their response, it sounds like the decision is final. – Donald Sep 17 '18 at 19:25
  • Is there not an appeals procedure? if there is not sounds like they will be in trouble legally – Neuromancer Sep 17 '18 at 22:57
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    I finally heard back, and the stated reason because of a small personal debt (£150). – mr509 Sep 20 '18 at 9:25
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    @DavidK I agree, the fact that I had to right tooth and nail to find out the reason as well, makes me believe they made decision based on illegally obtained data, most likely about my medical history. That would be very difficult to prove however. – mr509 Sep 20 '18 at 14:36
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Your rights under the GDPR entitle you to all the information from the background check. Quoting from the UK Information Commissioner's Office website1:

  • Individuals have the right to access their personal data.
  • This is commonly referred to as subject access.
  • Individuals can make a subject access request verbally or in writing.
  • You have one month to respond to a request.
  • You cannot charge a fee to deal with a request in most circumstances.

1. While that is a UK government site, the GDPR is EU legislation and applies equally in the UK and Germany.

  • I found the company that did the background check, however they only accept requests in writing, as in, sending a physical mail. Most likely by the time I get a response the company will have moved on. It will still be nice to get some closure on the matter however. – mr509 Sep 19 '18 at 20:32
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    according to 3rd bullet point, you have a verbal request option – Strader Sep 19 '18 at 21:59
  • This assumes the information is still held by the employer, they could easily have deleted the information after making the decision, so all you would get from them is the decision - the HR department still know why, as its collective knowledge, but that doesn't have to be divulged under the GDPR. – Moo Sep 20 '18 at 9:34
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As @Dan said in his comment, if you can find out the number of the agency that did the background check they should be able to provide you with the reason for your No Hire status.

I actually had something similar happen, where I failed a background check but I couldn't think of any reason why that was the case. I called them, and they provided me with the reasoning and I found that someone (seemed inadvertently) had been attached to my social security number (I have a very common full name). I was able to prove that the person who had been arrested multiple times was not me (as I was in college and lived across the country). They were then able to fix the issue, I then contacted the company who conducted the background check and explained the situation and that I had resolved the issue. They were nice enough to rerun the background check and I was offered the job.

Disclaimer: I'm from the US, not EU/Germany.

  • I don't think it's completely out of the question that something like this happened. They only seem to accept these kind of requests in writing however and I am not sure if it will still be relevant when I get the response back. – mr509 Sep 19 '18 at 20:34
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    Well, it probably will be relevant, as, if it isn't corrected, you'll fail every background check with access to the same data for the foreseeable future.... – ollie299792458 Sep 20 '18 at 15:23

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