Failed background check due to the war. The story of a Ukrainian woman who was denied a job at Apple

A few weeks ago, Quality Engineer Ekaterina Trusova published a message on her LinkedIn page in which she said that she was refused employment at Apple. Kateryna said that in July, the company was unable to approve background check, because for two years out of seven that are subject to verification, the woman lived in Ukraine.

We talked to Ekaterina about how the hiring process at Apple went and how the refusal was explained to her.

Background check involves checking criminal records, bankruptcy, proof of education, employment, credit history, and other past activities to make sure that everything matches the documents provided to the employer. Check a person's life for a period of 5-10 years. This can be done not only before employment, but also after it. The employer itself can check the information using various registers, or contact a company that is professionally engaged in this.

About employment and rejection at Apple

Ekaterina Trusova, search Language Specialist at Qualitest

I have been living and working in the United States for five years, and since 2001 I have been working remotely for Qualitest as a Search Language Specialist. A friend of mine from Apple told me about a job at the company and recommended me for the position of Content Specialist. I have long wanted to try myself in this direction, in addition, they offered a higher salary here. In early July, I received an email from an Apple recruiter offering me an interview —I didn't even have to send my resume right away.

The Apple team really needed people, so I only had two interviews: with a recruiter and a direct supervisor. I quickly received a positive review, and two weeks later I was informed that I could start working. I asked for time to think, but the very next day I decided to agree and offered to start in August. In response, the recruiter wrote that you need to start as soon as possible. They explained to me that the background check, which is usually carried out before sending an offer, can take a certain amount of time, but they assured me that it can be done later. So, I was sent an offer and recommended to submit a two weeks notice (two weeks in advance) at the place of work. I hesitated, but still signed the documents.

A week later, I had an exit interview in Qualitest, they said goodbye to me and resolved the last questions. Immediately after that, a recruiter from Apple called and reported the refusal of employment. The problem was background check. Two of the seven years that are subject to verification, I lived in Ukraine. The monitoring company was unable to check them due to the war in the country, so I was not hired for security reasons.

I saw that the recruiter himself was shocked by the refusal, so I understood that it was not necessary to ask questions and make scandals. He just gave the verdict. Over time, a continuous mechanism of ideas started working in my head. I began to think about how to correct the situation, to provide all possible evidence of the absence of criminal convictions behind my shoulders. After collecting all possible documents, I handed them over to the company: an identical seven-year background check dated December 1, 2021 of the same company, US B1/B2 visa from June 2015, issued in Kiev. I wouldn't get it if I had a criminal record.

The recruiter supported me in every possible way, asked me again and helped me settle everything. I waited two more days for a response and looked for ways to solve the problem. I didn't tell Qualitest about the rejection of Apple and worked there for the last few days. It was obvious to me that there was enough evidence and documents about non-criminal record. This company has already conducted my background check for Qualitest, so I could easily check everything. Everything should have worked. Subsequently, I received a message: we tried, did everything possible, but, unfortunately, no. Apple also added that they will be happy to see me in the team if the verification policy changes, but not now.

When I was rejected again, I immediately thought about the future. After the start of a full-scale invasion, my mother and sister came to me, who do not yet have the opportunity to find a job in the United States. In Ukraine-a family that is fleeing the war or lives in the temporarily occupied Kherson and has no income. I am very glad that Qualitest has no problems and was happy to take me back as soon as I told you about the situation.

In the first few days, I felt a bitter sense of injustice, which, of course, is worth fighting. Then I decided to write a message on LinkedIn. I understand how social media algorithms work, so I posted everything emotionally so that more people would know about the situation. When the emotions subsided, I realized that I would have told you about it in the same way, but perhaps in a different way.

I didn't want to get an invitation to work at Apple, but I wanted them and other companies to think about alternative mechanisms for checking Ukrainians. A number of compatriots who had a similar situation wrote to me. Now many Ukrainians are in the United States, and it will be unfair if the war becomes an obstacle to their employment in large companies. Of course, you can't cancel background check, we don't want to circumvent the company's policy. However, it is necessary to create conditions under which Ukrainians can provide Ukrainian documents confirming that you are not a criminal. They refused to accept my criminal record certificate.

Apple is a good company, and I like their products. My communication with the team and recruiters was as pleasant as possible, so I don't want to say anything bad. However, I am sure that given the war in Ukraine, it is possible to make certain concessions.

What a lawyer and an open data expert say

"Military operations on the territory of Ukraine may be an obstacle to conducting an inspection. State institutions that collect and provide information about the presence of criminal records in special registers may temporarily suspend their activities. Then the person will not pass the check, because during the period being checked, there is no information about the criminal history or other data. There may also be long delays in this process. Therefore, companies that are professionally engaged in background check often refuse to conduct it, citing the unstable situation in the country.

Background check may also be refused if the person does not have an ID card or passport. Refugees can face this situation," explains Roman Tkan, a lawyer at Trustme law Firm.

Nadezhda Babinskaya, an expert on access to public information and open data, adds:

"If the company that checks candidates uses open sources of information, then as of August, some of the information services and registers have already been opened since the beginning of a full-scale war. In particular, you can check the authenticity of the diploma, court cases against a person.

However, some registers remain closed, including the Unified Register of legal entities and sole proprietors, the Register of corrupt officials, and others. And this data can be obtained using services that have historical data (until 24.02.2022). That is, even taking into account the war, the company had the opportunity to check the person, if this did not happen in February-June. Yes, we can also add that the secrecy of public information has more consequences than we can expect. And this is one example."