December 13th, 2022 | Harris Bornstein, VP of Strategic Alliances and Channel Partnerships, Sterling

5 Questions to Ask About Your Background Screening ATS Integration

For many years, Human Resource professionals have made it a growing priority to manage as much of their hiring processes as possible through a single HR system. Last decade, integrations were a “nice-to-have.” Today, however, integration capabilities are a crucial part of nearly every bid for HR services, and have become a hard requirement in order to do business. Choosing a background screening partner is no exception.

The benefits of an integration have historically focused on its ability to reduce the manual effort it took to usher job candidates through the hiring process from recruiting through onboarding. As Human Resources Executive notes, “We have all heard that candidates have six to 10 seconds for a recruiter to review a resume to determine whether or not they are going to look further… Now, it’s reversed in a talent-driven job market: You have a day or two until the candidate has moved on.” As HR workflows mature and technology continues to allow hiring managers to remove steps and streamline the hiring process, new considerations have come into play as the future of screening integrations evolves, along with ways to further expedite the process. Assuming you’ve already made the decision to integrate background screening into your HR tech stack, here are five questions to ask about your background screening ATS integration:

1. What should a successful integration process look like? How much work can I expect during the implementation?

In today’s world, change has become much less of a pain point, as companies have created portals allowing users to provide minimal information while automation does the rest. Some background screening integrations can be set up nearly instantly, while others are completed in a matter of weeks or just a few days, instead of months. Josh Bersin echoed this in his predictions for 2022: “It’s okay to implement digital tools quickly. We don’t have to wait years and years to turn new things on. People learn how to use them pretty quickly.”

Be sure to ask how your provider will make implementation as painless as possible, ideally by providing a dedicated team to guide you through the process if needed. Depending on the level of customization, you may only require minimal technical resources. The expertise possessed by your background screening partner with the top Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) is critical to a successful implementation process. Be sure to ask about your screening provider’s experience building and supporting integrations with your preferred HR platforms.

2. Can this integration meet our global background screening needs?

Questions around a Consumer Reporting Agency’s (CRA) ability to conduct criminal background checks on candidates outside the US have never been more prevalent, and we see international recruiting as a rapidly-accelerating trend. Whether you’re hiring someone based in the US who has worked or studied abroad, or you’re hiring someone based in another country, the practice of screening these candidates for criminal history, identity, and credential verifications is becoming more the norm than the exception. Ask about this global capability even if you don’t think it’s necessary right now, because it likely will be soon. Additionally, be sure that both the platforms you’re integrating can transmit the required information for international background checks in a streamlined and compliant manner.

3. Is there a product offering built into the integration that will allow my company to validate a candidate’s identity as part of the hiring process?

Remote and hybrid workforces continue to gain traction, and while there are many benefits to employers, it can be more difficult to help mitigate risk when you need to hire an individual without ever having met them. It can be equally difficult to build a strong culture together with your new hires, as recently noted by Gartner.

Historically, employers were unable to “officially” verify an individual’s identification until the I-9 process was completed during the first few days of employment. Today, using ID verification, employers can help deter and detect identity fraud during the hiring process. Ask your screening provider if they have a way to allow you to build identity verification into your integrated workflow so that you can request ID verification further up the hiring funnel to remove friction from your process.

4. What kind of best practice advice can you share with regard to my industry?

Integrations, like background checks themselves, are not one-size-fits-all. An integration vendor should be able to offer you best practice when creating a program while also addressing the screening needs that may be specific to your particular industry. For example:

  • As a healthcare organization, would it benefit you to work with a vendor who can not only perform pre-employment background checks on staff, but also integrate with key players in the Credential Verification Organization (CVO) space to accommodate your credentialing needs?
  • As a transportation company, can your vendor manage your DOT requirements including drug & occupational health screening, and driver qualification file management?
  • As a staffing company, do your needs require hundreds (if not thousands) of packages and/or billing IDs to be built into the integration?

5. What else can you do to help streamline our process and HR workflows?

A fully-streamlined process doesn’t start and end with the background check itself. Once your candidate has accepted an offer and passed the background check, is it then possible to request your I-9 and E-Verify services through the same vendor, and ultimately integrate them into your onboarding platform or employee system of record? On the other hand, if your candidate has not passed the background check, will your integration allow for the initiation of the adverse action process, and can this all be managed by the CRA via your ATS?

What about ongoing monitoring? While the need for continuous screening varies by industry, it is a growing need, and one which needs to be automated. After all, what’s the point of monitoring if you’re not receiving scheduled data transfers on time — forcing you to hunt them down?

In addition to providing a seamless candidate experience, the storage and management of candidate data is critically important. However, having all this information scattered throughout multiple platforms can soon become confusing, if not dangerous. When reviewing the various organizations who make up your HR tech stack, be sure to take into strong consideration the ability to consolidate as much as you can, into as few systems as possible for the integrity of your brand and your most valuable asset – your people.

Harris Bornstein is the Vice President of Strategic Alliances and Channel Partnerships for Sterling. He joined the company in 1999, holding several senior leadership and business development positions in Sterling’s Strategic Channel Partnerships group, as well as serving as Regional Director of Sales. Harris has helped recruit and manage many of Sterling’s top partners. He focuses on identifying ATS/HCM partners with best-in-class technology and growing Sterling’s partner ecosystem to best serve clients. Harris holds a BS degree in Administration of Justice from Rutgers University.

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.