I am currently living in Quebec, Canada, and in the hiring process for a company in IT/Telecoms

I had already 3 interviews, two with recruiters (they contacted me when I sent a letter to the company) and another with human ressource director and a project manager. The last one succeeded, and now they want another one with a test.

Things are, the recruiters want to make an immediate background check, including criminal records, credit history, civil status, degrees, of course they need my Social Insurance Number for that, plus two references from former coworkers. As an ex-european all of this is quite a lot, background checking through ex-employer is common but credit and criminal ? I thought this was for critical jobs such as administration or military.

  • Are criminal records really relevant as an IT/electronic job ? They don't work with army or sensitive and hazardous systems, they just build system not manage them.
  • Why credit history matters ? I am in Canada for less than 5 years, will it affect my credit score ?
  • Is it safe to give away SIN over simple emails ?

My father-in-law told me when I arrived in Canada years ago to never give up the SIN to other than banks, employers or administration, I would gladly give it to the company after they gave me an offer, but should I give it now ? What if I fail the test ? Or if there are several other interviews/steps after that ?

I know that most companies deleguate the background check to a third party, and it seems to be the case but I cannot be certain that the recruiters will respect fully privacy.

Should I decline politely and tell them I will give all those informations (basically all my private informations) when I will receive a formal offer ? In the past I refused a job because a recruiter asked me to sign a document, kind of non-compete agreement, giving him and the company total control of what kinds of job I would have right to apply in up to two years after resigning, worldwide...

Thanks a lot for your answers

  • 2
    Telcos often have projects that require security clearances I knew team leaders in the UK at BT who had to do DV (top secret ) Vetting May 17, 2020 at 21:28
  • 1
    I'm a European (Dutch), and my current job also required a background check (by a commercial company) for my references and degree, and a 'verklaring omtrent gedrag' from the Justice Department. This VOG declares whether or not there is something in your (criminal) history that might be a risk in your new job. So this not something that is specific to Canada. May 19, 2020 at 12:14

3 Answers 3


This is all quite normal for Canada

I have always had the criminal, credit, and reference checks come before the formal offer.

criminal records

Everyone checks those. I signed up for a bunch of gig apps and even they had criminal background checks. I don't think you could deliver pizza with a criminal record in many places. I have never worked a job where this was not done beforehand, although admittedly mostly in finance and government, so that may skew things.

Are you going into homes? Sensitive buildings? Building infrastructure the government or a bank might use? All of those are reasons to check criminal records.

credit history

This is common for jobs where you might have access to sensitive information and depending on what you are doing, telecom could certainly qualify. They basically want to see whether someone might easily sway you to sell the personal information you have access to. I have had this done several times.

civil status

I am not completely sure what you mean by civil status, but if you mean lawsuits, that is common too. Have always been asked about those.


A lot of companies do not bother to actually verify those, but most at least pretend to check.

Social Insurance Number

They use that to run the credit check.

two references from former coworkers

This is to verify that you actually worked where you claimed.

but should I give it now ? What if I fail the test ?

You fail this stage if you don't provide it. The telecom companies are very rule driven from what I know of them.

Or if there are several other interviews/steps after that ?

That would be exceedingly unusual. Doing background, credit, and criminal checks costs money, so they only do it for people they want to hire. Pass this and you will almost certainly be getting a job offer.

Do not refuse. You are so close to getting a job.

Regarding the sending of information like your SIN, you can easily ask to do it over the phone or perhaps even through postal mail. Flexibility exists there.

  • 3
    While I agree with this answer, you certainly can provide the information, in a more secure manner than email. Before you provide the more sensitive information I would seek information with regards to what steps they will perform to protect your information
    – Donald
    May 4, 2020 at 21:17
  • 2
    In the US, this would all be fairly normal after a conditional offer was given (conditional on said checks); not before the offer or especially before a test...
    – Joe
    May 4, 2020 at 21:40
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    How do former criminals get reintegrated into society if they couldn't deliver pizza in Canada? This seems quite sad.
    – guest
    May 5, 2020 at 10:23
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    @guest delivery drivers go to people's homes, so I suspect that the standard employers have there is higher than with other lower-skill jobs. Although we actually don't talk about this much in Canadian politics, so I'm not really sure what happens to criminals on the job market in general. May 5, 2020 at 11:10
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    @Varech It doesn't really matter if they do the background check before or after you are given an offer. Companies (probably) reserve the right to rescind the employment offer if something "bad" comes up in the background check. Companies typically only do background checks after they decide who to hire, because they cost ~$20 a piece. And in my experience, references are only called after you get past the first round of interviews.
    – sam
    May 5, 2020 at 22:24

In the USA, if you apply for a job at McDonald's, they will ask for your "permission" to check your criminal record, credit score, etc. To do this, you need to give them your Social Security Number.

However, they are primarily interested in whether you ever robbed a bank, killed someone, etc. In other words, did you ever commit any "violent felonies"? If you have a bad credit score, or got arrested for weed possession, most employers won't really care.

I think they are required by law to ask for your permission to check your entire background, even though they only care whether you a violent felon. The agreement you sign will look the same for 90% of jobs you apply for. It is a fairly standard legal template.

Below is a form from a Minnesota public schools background check, for example. I hereby authorize Fridley Public Schools to obtain the following information in connection with my application for employment, or, if hired, at anytime during my employment: criminal and/or motor vehicle records, employment records, Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension criminal history as provided for in Minnesota Statute 123B.03, educational records, consumer reports, consumer investigative reports including credit reports obtained through a consumer reporting agency, personal references and other job related date provided on this application or via the interview process. By signing this form you are allowing the above named...

(This changes if you apply to government jobs which will expose you to confidential information, or jobs where you will be handling large sums of money on a regular basis. People with bad credit scores might be more likely to accept money from foreign spies in exchange for top secret info, for example.)

  • McDonald does not run credit checks for simple low-level jobs in the US, even with people's permissions. It's illegal in 10 states and even when it's not illegal, McDonald runs the risk of being accused of redlining (discriminating against people of color). May 17, 2020 at 11:11
  • @StephanBranczyk - As a minority, even I don’t see the connection, between a background check and my race. So I am not sure I agree with your conclusions surrounding the possibility of discrimination against race due to a background check. I agree that McDonalds would only be interested if your legally allowed to work.
    – Donald
    May 18, 2020 at 22:31

Every country is of course different, but employers (and governments) have learned the hard way(!) about the importance of background checks. "But he looked like such a nice guy ... I had no idea he had a mug shot!"

Also, some jobs, such as anything having to do with "personally identifiable information," "anything having to do with money," and so forth, have legal requirements for background checks. Once again, for fairly obvious reasons.

Simply let them do their thing. (And, if in your case "there's anything they will find,* be the one to tell them first. Everyone makes mistakes at some time in their lives.)

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