Unemployable at this job?!
April 13, 2012 7:47 AM   Subscribe

What can an employer ask on an application?

I'm a little confused about something I saw on an application.

I have a lot of CSR experience from several previous jobs I've had, one of which I had for 2 years. I enjoyed those kinds of jobs. Since this is the case, of course I'm interested in those kinds of jobs again. There's only a few positions of this nature in my town that are constantly hiring, one of which being a call center.

One of the first questions on their application is "Have you had any moving violations in the past 5 years?"-- why is this question necessary at a job where you are not required to drive for them and what exactly are they looking for? They also ask about felonies, but they do not ask about misdemeanors.

I had a ticket in '08 and a ticket in '10. I have not had any other tickets and I've never been arrested or convicted of a crime. Does this bar me from getting this kind of call center job? I'd say I'm the perfect candidate otherwise.
posted by camylanded to Work & Money (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
(Are you in the US? This could make a difference. I'm only familiar with US law.)

My guess would be that this is a generic application given to anyone who applies for any jo with this company, not just as a CSR. There may be positions at this company that include driving as a part of the job requirements. Thus, the moving violation question could be a deciding factor in whether or not they get the job. I don't think anyone will look twice at a CSR having received two tickets in the past 5 years.
posted by pecanpies at 7:54 AM on April 13, 2012

I'm also guessing they just have the one application form. Go ahead and put in your tickets, they won't care.
posted by empath at 8:00 AM on April 13, 2012

I also assume you are in the United States.

Whether or not you have committed a traffic offense is not a protected category (unlike, for instance, race/sex/religion/etc), so in general, yes, you could legally be denied a job due to moving offenses. However, I concur with pecanpies that it is much more likely that this is just a generic application and they will just ignore your tickets for a customer service position.
posted by saeculorum at 8:01 AM on April 13, 2012

The foil hat on me suspects that the moving-violation question comes from some dark corner of the HR swamp that claims that an employee who breaks traffic laws will likely break company policies/be a troublemaker.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:41 AM on April 13, 2012

If that were the case, you wouldn't want to work there anyway.
posted by empath at 8:42 AM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sounds like a generic job application they give out for any position in the company.

At my current job, I was asked to provide my driver's license number and state on the application, though I am a software engineer. The information is irrelevant to my position, however, I work for a VERY large company. There are positions that involve a lot of driving in company vehicles (advertising the company by means of our logo, name, and website in several places on the vehicle). Hiring a crummy driver, or worse, someone prone to DUI who is doing these things while driving a company vehicle is certainly going to reflect poorly on the company when the general public sees that kind of driving. So they want to weed those people out.

By the same token they don't want to waste money printing 234626342 different kinds of job applications for 37482783 different positions.

I wouldn't worry about it. A CSR in a call center isn't going to need a pristine driving record. Certainly provide the information, but I doubt they are even going to look at it other than to see if your job application is complete.
posted by tckma at 8:44 AM on April 13, 2012

The foil hat on me suspects that the moving-violation question comes from some dark corner of the HR swamp that claims that an employee who breaks traffic laws will likely break company policies/be a troublemaker.

That would be the worst HR department in the world. It's the job of HR to identify and hire the best possible candidates -- a competent HR organization isn't looking for specious reasons to exclude otherwise qualified candidates.

No, in this case the answer is that the employer likely has some positions that require driving, and the company could be exposed to liability if it hired someone with a poor driving record for those one positions, and the person subsequently caused an accident.
posted by pardonyou? at 9:05 AM on April 13, 2012

In the US there are several federal (and state) laws regarding what can and can't part of Pre-Employment Inquiries. This is why most job applications ask about felony convictions but not misdemeanors or arrests. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's website has more information.

As has been stated, most companies use a standard job application form for all position. Even companies without driving positions are likely to ask about moving violations. Not because they care, but because they can (or possibly because the questions are on the application template they have).

Whether or not they won't hire you because of a couple tickets? It seems unlikely. As you've noticed call centers are always hiring, this is because they have ridiculously high turn-over. In my experience this makes them more likely to overlook things like job history and experience. So I doubt they'll even look at moving violations.

Not that you would, but don't lie on the application.
posted by zinon at 11:22 AM on April 13, 2012

They don't care. Checking for driving behavior isn't in their top 100 worries. For a call center, having a pulse is way down at 50.
posted by cmiller at 11:47 AM on April 13, 2012

They probably want to know if you have any DUIs or a history of instability or violence. I doubt anyone cares about speeding tickets.
posted by twblalock at 3:01 PM on April 13, 2012

I applied for a spreadsheet jockey job for a utility and they had a section on driver's licenses and moving vehicle violations. But as others suggest above, it is because I was filling out the same application as a guy that would have a truck and climb utility poles, or people that read meters or other jobs where the employee would need to drive. Even if the job you're applying for a job that involves driving, minor infractions every few years won't be a deal killer. If you're going to be driving one of their vehicles (or your own) for work purposes they don't want someone that gets tickets a few times a year (or major infractions). I wouldn't worry at all about it if I were you.

(as I type this, I guess they could look at it from a reliability perspective of a CSR type job. In that if you get so many tickets you're in danger of losing your license or will be late because you'll get pulled over on the way to work, it might be a deciding factor. However, I doubt they really bother with that)
posted by birdherder at 5:27 PM on April 13, 2012

You could always leave the area blank, write n/a, or you could be vague and just say you got a ticket without giving details. You don't have to lie, but it's really none of their business if it doesn't concern your potential job duties. (Sometimes salaried employees are considered representatives of the company and it obviously would matter then, but that's probably not relevant here.)
posted by i feel possessed at 11:16 AM on April 14, 2012

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