February 8th, 2018 | Debbie Lamb, Sterling Talent Solutions

Risks of Sacrificing Quality Background Checks for the Illusion of Speed

HR professionals know that time is of the essence when hiring and background screening is no exception. Employers want to fill empty roles quickly, they are competing for candidates, and they need to get those workers up to productivity as fast as possible. That’s why turn-around time for background checks is such an important metric. However, speed is no substitute for quality and accuracy. Speed and accuracy: you can’t have one without the other.

The 2017-2018 Sterling Background Screening Trends & Best Practices Report uncovered details how HR professionals think about components of the hiring process and how they relate to the background checks industry, how emerging technology is impacting the candidate experience and emerging trends in employment background screening. Companies want to get new hires in the door quickly and efficiently with quality information for informed hiring decisions. Nearly half of employers surveyed (45%) said their biggest challenge was reducing the time to hire while 41% said it was improving the background screening process efficiently and 36% said improving the quality of information they had received to make their hiring decisions. 

Fastest Turnaround Time is Not Always the Best

In the race for the fastest turnaround time in the business, some background checks providers are cutting corners and playing the odds. A provider might send a report back to an employer with a “clear” report, while in reality, the investigation is not complete. In the minority of cases where it comes back with an issue, they send the employer a “corrected” report, stating that upon further research a criminal record was uncovered.

Clearly, this can provide a false sense of security, can lead to mistakes in hiring decisions and can position the employer poorly with the candidate whose employment must be revoked. Even more concerning is the possibility that a problem may occur in the “in-between time” that could expose the employer to liability. An example of such a case is a class action lawsuit was filed by 60,000 members against a North Carolina Grocery chain who used allegedly illegal background check procedures. The class-action lawsuit stated that applicants allegedly failed to receive the required stand-alone disclosure that the grocery chain was going to conduct an employment-related background check. Also, applicants allegedly failed to receive the required notice before adverse employment action was taken based on the background check. The class action resulted in a $3 million settlement. For companies that are not diligent in their background screening procedures, they should ask themselves the question: is the risk worth it? It is critical not to sacrifice accuracy for the illusion of speed.

Importance of Candidate Experience in the Background Screening Process

We know how important it is to get that new hire cleared and ready to work quickly. This is especially true in high turnover industries such as retail, hospitality and manufacturing.  However, cutting corners is never the answer. The stakes are too high.

The application, interview and background screening process vary at every company. Some organizations go out of their way to make it simple and transparent for the candidate, while other companies have complex processes in place, which can make the entire process unclear and a challenge for the candidate. A majority of respondents (69%) to the Sterling survey stated they are transparent with their candidates about the background screening process and 63% will contact their candidates to clarify any inconsistencies. However, fewer than half (45%) update their candidates when a delay occurs, perhaps reinforcing technology gaps that exist. Transparency gives candidates control of the background screening process, replacing anxiety and uncertainty with trust and confidence.

As competition for high performing talent continues to increase, employers recognize that they need to step up their candidate experience and provide a consistent, simple and personalized experience for their applicants. Streamlining technology is at the forefront of this priority. Companies are looking to technology to elevate and differentiate the candidate experience from the abyss of other potential employers. This helps with the ultimate goal of onboarding hires quickly before they can go to another company while boosting a company’s brand and reputation while not sacrificing quality for the illusion of speed.

Find out more about how to get high-quality background checks so you can make accurate hiring decisions with confidence. You can find more information about trends in the background screening industry by downloading a copy of the Background Screening Trends and Best Practices Report 2017-2018.

Download the 2017 Background Screening Trends Report

This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.