March 14th, 2018 | Debbie Lamb, Sterling Talent Solutions

Speeding Up the Criminal Background Check Process

Driven by a tightening job market, employers want to get candidates onboard as quickly as possible so that they don’t lose them to another company. This is especially true in retail, hospitality, manufacturing and other high-turnover industries. The Sterling’ 2017-2018 Background Screening Trends and Best Practices Report found that the respondent’s top priority for improving the background screening process is reducing the time to hire. (45%) With improving the screening process efficiency 41% and improve quality information 36% to round out the top three reasons.

There are many types of background screening checks from criminal record checks to education and employment verifications to social media screening. Each type of background check has specific practical considerations and compliance matters that must be followed which can impact how fast the results will be returned.

Why Do Some Background Checks Take Longer to Process?

Employment screening can take anywhere from one to five days in most cases depending on the type of background check an employer is running and a myriad of other circumstances. While many employers want the quickest possible turnaround, it is more important to be both thorough and accurate in order to mitigate risk.

Getting a complete picture of a candidate’s criminal history is harder than you think. While some background checks are delayed due to backlogs at the county or state repository, other cases might be caused by incorrect or missing information. There are more than 3,500 individual court jurisdictions in the U.S. – and each one handles things a little differently. Some of the county jurisdictions still rely on paper records and a county clerk who will have to go through the records manually to retrieve the results. Some background screening providers are not digitally integrated with the courthouses to access records. Instead, they have to send court runners to pick up the records, which could cause a delay in turnaround time.

Types of Criminal Record Checks

There are several types of criminal record checks, each with a different level of diligence. It’s important that when you analyze or compare the various searches that you also understand the significant differences between them. While “instant” databases are quick and convenient, they might not be complete or compliant with FCRA guidelines. Instant databases simply do not provide the same level of detail as county criminal record checks based on address history and often contain data which has not been broadly updated within the past 30 days.

In most cases, employers are opting for more than just one search. Employers that have previously relied on only county searches are now expanding their investigations to include state repositories or national locator databases. There are many sources for companies to receive a complete picture of a candidate’s criminal history:

  • County Criminal Records:
  • State Criminal Records
  • Federal Criminal Records
  • Sex Offender Registry

Faster Criminal Background Checks Without Sacrificing Quality

Sterling’ Complete Criminal Locator uses advanced technology and extensive cross-referencing to identify more possible places to search for criminal records. Complete Criminal Locator is a screening program made up of three powerful locator tools—Social Security Number Trace, Multi-State Criminal Database Check and Locator Select—that together, uncover an average of 13% more criminal records than without this package. This multi-step locator process identifies the most likely places to search for criminal records for each candidate. The criminal records search is then powered by CourtDirect — our unique, automation technology and fulfillment methodology providing digital access to over 2,200 U.S. court jurisdictions and our own court runners to cover the rest. With access to millions of criminal records, CourtDirect, with built-in, continuous quality and compliance controls, delivers faster turnaround times on screening requests and improves overall accuracy by decreasing the opportunity for human errors.

Tips for Speeding Up the Criminal Background Check Process

It is important to be transparent with your candidates about the background check process. Let the candidates know that you have procedures in place to ensure that the information you use is accurate and up-to-date. Also, let them know how long it generally takes to complete the process. To help speed up background screening, employers can implement the following tips:

  • Select the Right Provider: Organizations should focus on finding a provider that can meet their specific hiring needs. One of the biggest mistakes employers make when selecting a background check provider is basing their decision exclusively on cost without considering turnaround time. Employers should also select a provider that is highly integrated directly with courthouses to get faster criminal record check results. The screening provider also should be communicating delays to you in a timely matter, letting you know the nature of the delay and when you can expect to see the results.
  • Opt for Online: Utilize your Provider’s online candidate collection process as often as possible. An online ordering process or integration with your applicant tracking system can significantly reduce background check delays.
  • Make a List and Check It Twice: Take a few moments to ensure that the candidate has included the necessary information, such as their SSN and legal name including middle name so that the screening company will have everything it needs to perform the criminal background check.

Criminal background checks are a vital step in making intelligent and informed hiring decisions. The key to minimizing the legal risk associated with speedy or not fully completed criminal record checks is to have a hiring policy in place that accounts for applicable legislation, guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the overall candidate experience. Learn steps to protect your business by being compliant with laws for your background screening policies in our new white paper, Five Critical Steps to Criminal Record Check Compliance

Download 5 Critical Steps to Background Check Compliance.

Sterling is not a law firm. 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.