Why Speed Matters with Background Checks

By Michael Klazema on 8/23/2018

Make no mistake: your top priority when designing an employee background check policy and choosing a background check provider to carry it out should always be reliability. You need a background check process that will find red flags if there are any out there to be found. Sometimes, that will mean ordering half a dozen different county criminal history searches, based on the candidate’s address history. Other times, it will mean ordering separate verification checks for educationwork historyprofessional licensing, and references. You should be aiming to achieve the most thorough background check possible, which typically involves bundling a variety of background check products into a policy that covers all the bases.

However, it’s also important to understand the value of speed in this process. Right now, we are living in a job seeker’s market. Unemployment levels are low and job availability is high. Because of this situation, employers face tough competition from other businesses in the search for top talent. High-paying jobs with good benefits will still attract good people, but there are also other factors that can put employers in the good graces of candidates. One of these factors is the overall candidate experience.

The Candidate Experience: What Employers Need to Know

Making it easy for applicants to apply for a job online, from any device. Communicating with your candidates throughout the hiring process to update them on application status. Making candidates feel welcomed and respected during interviews. These are just a few of the priorities that businesses can focus on to improve candidate experience and win the favor of prospective employees.

Perhaps the biggest priority, though, is minimizing the hiring timeline. Again, qualified job seekers essentially have their pick of the litter right now when it comes to job options, thanks to the booming economy. Employers need to assume that their candidates are applying for multiple jobs at any one time. Said another way, employers are basically racing the clock—and each other—to hire the best people. Application and interview processes that last for weeks or even months at a time are not an option. Companies need to move top candidates through the pipeline toward a hire faster, or risk losing those applicants to employers who acted faster.

The important point to remember here is that nobody likes looking for a job. Even if someone is employed in a stable job and just looking for something better, the experience of applying for jobs, making time for interviews, and being in limbo is no one’s idea of a good time. By offering quicker application-to-job-offer pipelines, employers can satisfy one of the biggest job seeker desires: expedition.

Speeding up the Background Check: What Are the Options?

One of the challenges to providing an expedited hiring process is the background check. Background checks are essential, but it can also be hard to predict how long they will take. This post sheds some light on how long different types of screenings can take. The good news is that the most common types of checks—criminal history searches, driving record checks, address history checks, and verifications—are also typically among the quicker searches. Some of our checks are even instant. Less popular checks like credit history and county civil court searches are slower, as are international criminal history checks.

However, our estimates on background check lengths are just ballpark figures, and some checks can take significantly longer depending on the circumstances. Even background check professionals determined to turn things around quickly can be at the mercy of unresponsive former employers (for work history verifications), slow-moving court clerks (for county criminal history checks), or federal holidays (any type of check that involves going through a court to pull records).

There is nothing employers can do to avoid these delays or even to foresee them. Instead, employers can be strategic about background checks and other facets of their hiring process to save time. Best practices might include:

  • Quicker decision making: Understand that how long your background checks take is largely out of your hands and do what you can to make up that time elsewhere. Making quicker decisions on who to interview, who to include in your pool of finalists, and who to hire will improve the applicant experience and reduce the chances of your candidate being snapped up by another company.
  • Running background checks after making conditional employment offers: Increasingly, this practice is the standard—and not just because it’s popular among fair chance hiring advocates. Employers that run background checks after the employment offer save money on screening multiple candidates and give the candidate the peace of mind of knowing they have a job. Even if the background check takes a few days, it’s less likely at this juncture that they will take a job with another company or decline the offer due to a poor candidate experience.
  • Conducting background checks concurrently: The good thing about different types of background checks is that you can run many of them concurrently. Do an address history search first and then order criminal searches from multiple counties all at once. Set other checks in motion—be they driving history checks, verifications, or credit searches—at the same time. This practice speeds up the screening process and makes it easier to remember which checks you’ve already ordered.

Keeping job candidates waiting is no longer an acceptable practice for employers. To win the best talent, you need to be fast, responsive, and communicative. Just remember that cutting corners on background checks to save time isn’t an option. Following the strategies outlined in this article will help you devise a background check process that is fast and reliable at the same time.

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