Here’s a scenario that might be all too familiar: You’ve pulled out all the stops to identify, interview and potentially place one or two skilled candidates, but suddenly your hard efforts come to a standstill with a delay in the background check. A lengthy background check can be one of the most frustrating aspects of the hiring process – and it can cost you a lot.

For every day you’re waiting for a background check to be complete, you’re losing money – it could be hundreds of thousands of dollars – and those open positions you’re recruiting for may be filled by somebody else. But on the flip side, if you don’t get a thorough report, you put your reputation at risk of losing business and potential lawsuits.

Staffing agencies deal with a large number of candidates, and the efficacy of these applicants can positively or negatively impact the reputation of an agency. Effective placement can encourage a business to use the agency again, while a negative placement may destroy the relationship.

CareerBuilder last year acquired Aurico, a background screening and drug testing provider serving US and international clients. Background checks help agencies safeguard their reputations by helping employers create safer, more secure work environments staffed by qualified employees. Based on research from a new CareerBuilder survey, here are four questions you should ask to make sure you’re getting the most out of your background checks.

Is my provider fast enough? One of the biggest mistakes companies make when selecting a background screening provider is basing their decision exclusively on cost without considering turnaround time. Typically, background checks should return in less than five business days, but on average checks take from 24 to 72 business hours to complete. If the cheapest provider also happens to be the slowest provider, this delay in the hiring process could cost you in the long run. This dollar amount quickly escalates when you factor in the increased time-to-hire and loss of productivity. Companies should also select a provider that is highly integrated with courthouses to get faster criminal record check results.

How much of the process is automated? Is it fully, partially or not at all? In recent years, background screening has gone from a costly and time consuming task reserved for selected job applicants to an increasingly automated and technology driven business necessity in a global economy where employers expect fast and accurate results. When choosing a vendor, assess how much you may still have to handle manually and how that could slow you down or put you at risk for mistakes.

Is the candidate experience a positive one? Sixty-five percent of respondents to the CareerBuilder survey said they have never tested their system themselves to see what the candidate experience is like. Not only is it crucial for those hiring to experience the process firsthand, it’s important to seek direct feedback from candidates. The repercussions of a poor candidate experience can be extensive and powerful – you could not only be losing your best candidates, but also damaging your organization’s brand and even negatively affecting your bottom line. Employers that consider how their background screening process impacts the candidate, including informing and educating applicants about the process, could substantially improve their candidate experience.

Am I getting all the information I need or just part of the story? Twenty-nine percent of employers made a bad hire because they received bad information about the candidate. Fifteen percent of employers have run into litigation for not hiring someone because of what was found in a background check. Make sure your provider keeps up with compliance standards, is National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) accredited, and ensures the candidate is informed and supported.

Comprehensive background checks cannot be done instantly, but they can be done quickly and thoroughly. Asking and answering the four questions above will ensure you get the most of your background check process.

by Ben Goldberg

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