Contingent assessments are the final step in the external hiring process, not undertaken until after a candidate receives a conditional job offer. Unlike assessments that evaluate a candidate’s cognitive abilities, technical knowledge or job skills, contingent assessments are criteria which must be met before an offer becomes final. While the most common include a reference check, drug test and medical exam, specific business needs or the job role may require the use of alternate or additional contingent assessment methods.

Background Assessment Methods

Background assessment methods range from checking personal and professional references and past employment history to checking a prospective employee’s driving record, education, credit and criminal record. In some industries, such as those involving contact with children, the elderly and disabled persons, a criminal background check is a mandatory contingent assessment method. Many states limit the use of credit checks to cash-handling jobs. Businesses that do use a credit check as part of a contingent assessment must comply with Fair Credit Reporting Act standards, as well as any state laws that may exist.

Drug Testing

Drug testing isn’t always a first-choice for small-business owners, as some inaccurately perceive this contingent assessment method as too costly. Employment attorney Stuart E. Blaugrund advises small-business-owners to reconsider this position, stating an average testing cost of about $20 to $25 per employee -- as of November 2013 -- is far less costly than potential consequential costs. Workplace accidents, workers’ compensation claims and potential harm to other employees and customers can be significantly more expensive than a simple drug test. A written drug testing policy that follows state laws, provisions in the Americans with Disabilities Act and a formal drug-testing procedure can protect a small business if an issue such as a workers’ compensation claims or employment discrimination lawsuit should arise.

Medical Exams

Medical exams that evaluate hearing, vision, reflexes or check for an underlying condition such as heart problems can be used only to assess a candidate’s ability to perform specific job duties. The Americans with Disabilities Act also states that when medical exams are a contingent assessment method, their use must be applied uniformly for every employee in the same job category. With some exception, health information privacy laws also apply. For example, a small-business owner can provide medical exam information to supervisors if they require this information to reasonably accommodate a disability or health condition. Information can also be given to workplace first-aid and safety personnel if an employee requires emergency treatment or may require assistance during an emergency evacuation because of a health condition.

Using Contingent Assessments

A conditional job offer must outline each contingent assessment the candidate must pass. A clause in the offer such as “This conditional job offer is subject to the following terms and conditions,” should then go on to list each contingent assessment method. In addition, under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, health information privacy laws and Americans with Disabilities Act, before the business can access private information it must have written permission. If the results of a contingent assessment require the business to rescind a job offer, consider the advice of the Society for Human Resource Management and protect the business by consulting with an attorney prior to making the job rescind official.