Adapting to the Realities of Job Screening During a Pandemic

By Michael Klazema on 4/30/2020

If there was a talent crunch before the outbreak of COVID-19, its severity has doubled since. For employers, the challenge of hiring the best individual for a job already meant sorting through piles of applications. Now, there will be even more competition for open positions. 

Can your background checking process stand up to the strain? 

The Risks of Suspending Your Screening Practices

Some employers find the idea of curtailing background screening practices an enticing prospect as they face the need to secure more staff as soon as possible. However, there are legal ramifications to consider—for example, the pandemic has not eliminated the risks of exposure to claims related to negligent hiring practices. 

Opting to delay screening may not be straightforward. If you intend to background-check new employees later on, you must obtain their consent and inform them of your intent to do so ahead of time. Otherwise, you may risk a lawsuit alleging unfair or discriminatory labor practices. 

Is Screening Still Important?

The answer is yes—and not just in light of the legal complications that emerge during a temporary suspension of your background screening practices. 

While you may choose to reconsider how you accept or deny applications based on the information that you uncover, the act of screening is just as vital now as it was before the pandemic—in fact, it may be even more crucial. With unemployed numbers swelling and more job-seekers re-entering the market, the likelihood that you may encounter unsuitable applicants will only increase.

Prepare for Potential Impacts to Background Screening Processes

Most of the electronic systems supporting identity verification and background checking are unaffected by COVID-19. However, some state and local court systems have temporarily ceased operations to comply with social distancing guidelines. These systems will not reflect any updated records for some time, and direct record searches are unavailable as courts have closed. 

Nationally, the issue is not so widespread: criminal history databases continue to operate and report new results. While some systems are down entirely, others are operating at a reduced capacity to continue providing service. Before ordering a background check, review the status of these systems in your jurisdiction.

Equip Yourself with the Right Tools

Reducing time-to-hire is a pressing concern for many employers, especially those looking to understand how to restore their operations in a post-lockdown economy. Rather than reducing their background checking requirements or altering their procedures dramatically, employers should consider adopting swifter, more accessible tools. 

At, robust resources such as the instant US OneSEARCH and in-depth county-level background checks continue to deliver effective results. Equip yourself with the tools for finding the right people to help your business weather the storm. 

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