Today’s Workforce: The importance of candidate experience in background screening

September 29, 2020

With unemployment near all-time lows, it’s no surprise that the “war for talent” is being waged in every environment. When you’re recruiting top talent such as software developers, executives, and so on, you want to make sure you’re winning the war.

One area often overlooked is the background screening process. Though most candidates (without shady pasts) understand the process is required,  it’s scary nonetheless. The reasons they believe this aren’t totally unfounded. Companies that don’t follow hiring laws and rules, or ones that act slowly or use old-fashioned technology may be passed over for those potential employers that make this part of the process truly “just a formality.”

Here’s several reason background checks are important in this process.

It reflects on your company’s way of doing things

If you use paper forms and clunky processes, your candidates will think you are behind the times (not to mention the fact that you will be wasting resources.) Conversely, if you use a solution with a modern mobile experience, that uses chat, your phone’s camera, and so on, they will believe you are a modern company.

Instant gratification

Millennials are accused of having short attention spans and wanting everything NOW. Whether that’s true or not, you don’t want your candidates waiting. During the few extra days, in today’s hot job market, they could find something just a little bit better or that pays just a little bit more.

Show you’re serious

Background checks are usually done at a contingent offer. You should make it clear that this is the last step and that you very much intend to hire this candidate. Your “recruiting” shouldn’t stop. The hiring manager should keep the candidate engaged through this process, and reinforce that the start date is just around the corner.

Don’t treat your candidate like a criminal!

One of the most common offenses is that companies assume “guilt” and treat a background check like the Inquisition instead of the formality it typically is. Yes, some people have criminal backgrounds, (depending on your population maybe 5-10%) but of those, many won’t be validated, some are irrelevant (one DUI 6 years ago) and so on. All told, a very small few of your candidates will be ruled out as a result of the background check. Building a process that treats the majority instead of the minority will really hurt you in the long run.

How do you know if your background checking process is up to par? Ask, for starters, but there are more steps you can take.

  1. Ask your background check provider for candidate satisfaction scores. If they’re not measuring, it’s probably not good enough.
  2. Interview your most recent hires. Ask them what worked well and what didn’t. Were there any avoidable hiccups?
  3. Secret shop. Go through your own process and screen yourself.  The law supports this in most cases, so experience the process for yourself. Are there duplicate forms that could be eliminated with modern integration? Do your forms ask for data you already have, or that you could get another way? Find out and make the necessary changes.

Once your background screening process is as streamlined, pleasant, and efficient as the rest of your recruiting process, be sure to ask for reviews, post it on Glassdoor or candidate FAQ pages, maybe even record the process in a video. In short, make sure your background screening process reflects your company’s commitment to reducing friction and bringing on the best, AND the safest talent.


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