Employers can turn to background screening technology to improve candidate experience

Audrey Roth

In today’s constant war for talent, the job market has become candidate-driven with more than half of all employers admitting that it’s hard to find candidates with the appropriate skills for the positions they are hiring for, according to CareerBuilder’s 2015 Candidate Behavior Study. Job seekers expect a consumer-grade experience and an unpleasant, slow, or invasive background check can easily turn a candidate off of a potential employer. In today’s marketplace, employers should focus on creating the best candidate experience with their background screening processes.

Twenty-five percent of companies surveyed in HireRight’s 2015 Employment Screening Benchmark Report indicated that improving the candidate experience, from application through onboarding is one of their most significant talent acquisition challenges. This number increases to 42 percent for organizations with greater than 4,000 employees, and slightly more than one-third (36 percent) of these companies indicated that they planned to invest in improving the candidate experience in 2015. Although companies are looking to improve, candidates continue to have criticism for their screening processes. Chris Dyer, CEO of PeopleG2, lists the biggest complaints candidates have for background screening experiences as:

  1. Turnaround time,
  2. Having questions answered or unanswered,
  3. Not receiving a copy of their report,
  4. Resolving discrepancies; and
  5. Not knowing who to call to resolve their issue.

Using a technologically up-to-date screening solution is one easy way for companies to get ahead of these concerns in the hiring process. When focusing on a few key capabilities for the candidate directly, the candidate’s background screening experience can begin to improve.

Provide readily available candidate support services. No matter how an application is submitted – electronically, by fax or mail – candidates are sure to have questions throughout the screening process. No candidate wants to come across a screening problem and have no one to turn to for help. “Is the CRA [consumer reporting agency] truly going to answer that phone (and subsequently their questions) when the applicant calls?” says Kym Kurey, vice president of sales & compliance of First Choice Background Screening. If the answer is no, companies should look to resolve their CRA’s customer service issues or find a CRA that already provides quality support. In a candidate-driven job market, applicants should not have to be left in the dark when in need of assistance.

Maintain an easy method to handle disputes. Questions can arise about the results from even the most comprehensive CRA. Chief Knowledge Officer of Employment Background Investigations Inc., Robert Capwell, suggests utilizing a user-friendly dispute process to limit the nuisance of the candidate’s additional step.

“If a candidate has a question, what does that process look like? Would you want to deal with that process if your background check was incorrect?” says Dyer of PeopleG2. “Candidates that have concerns and questions usually reach out to the employer and screening firm. The more frustration they encounter, the higher chances they will not want to work for you, and in serious cases they are more likely to get an attorney to resolve their dispute.”

Offer electronic capabilities. “The use of a self-service candidate portal that provides an easy and secure way for a candidate to enter data is key,” says Capwell. “The days of filling out a form or application and faxing it in are long gone.” Self-service leads to better accuracy, paper reduction, and employee privacy. Organizations without these options are conveying their technology options as obsolete -a less than desirable trait for candidates to find in a potential employer. Jibe’s 2014 Talent Acquisition Survey found that the majority (60 percent) of job seekers are most likely to give up on an application if they encountered technological hurdles. Having an outof- date background check adds an additional element of difficulty for candidates who are used to their current world of instant gratification.

“With the electronic or web-based portal options that are out there, candidates can review, fill out and even sign everything needed for their background screen from the comfort of their own….whatever!” says Kurey. “Couch, car, kitchen, baseball field…wherever they have an internet connection, they can easily do all that needs to be done in order to initiate their background screen.”

Digitizing the screening process helps employers and potential employees alike stay up to date on the current progress of a background check, allowing them to know when to expect results, says Dyer. “This helps to keep the hiring process moving forward, keeps the candidate happy with the progress and prospect of gaining employment, and will keep the employer motivated to move towards filling the position rather than being bogged down with delays from the relay of information.”

Ease of Use

Above all, the ease of use for the candidate from start to finish makes the difference between an agreeable and a tortuous background check. This can start with a user-friendly interface, as internet users have come to expect a certain level of responsiveness.

“The ‘app’ environment and web solutions that have been formatted for smart phones and tablets have dramatically improved the candidates’ ease of use,” says Kurey. “The web-based applications as a whole, and the ease of access to them, has certainly benefited the entire process for everyone.”

Dyer explains that PeopleG2 removes room for complication by generating a personalized email for companies to send out to their candidates, allowing candidates to enter their own personal information to initiate the background check. “This makes it easy for the candidate to know that the information they have provided is the information that is being searched,” says Dyer. “Also, having the ability to enter an email address and receive results upon completion takes away the wait time that might exist if they are waiting for a company to provide them with a copy of a background check.”

Getting Ahead

The technology-based advantages for background checks can improve the candidate’s experience from start to finish while also helping organizations get ahead in their hiring process. Integration between HR constituents can eliminate repetitive and frustrating processes, yet adoption of these technological solutions is unexpectedly slow: only one in five organizations has integrated their employment screening process with their talent management solution, and 48 percent of organizations have no plans to integrate these software solutions, finds HireRight’s 2015 Employment Screening Benchmark Report.

“Integrations between HR applicant tracking systems and the background checking systems has created the ability to make the onboarding process a ‘one-stop’ solution,” says Dyer. “Rather than accessing multiple systems and databases, HR integrations help to create a seamless option for companies that are looking to streamline their applicant tracking and hiring process.”

“Recruiters no longer have to process applicant information manually or do the data entry themselves, nor is it necessary for applicants to physically come on site to fill out paperwork,” says Kurey. “The recruiter can simply plug in a name and email address and click send and then monitor everything, ultimately receiving the screening results, online!” Candidates can access the websites on their smartphones, tablets, or laptops, and can complete job applications, sign all required forms, and initiative the screening process electronically. Kurey shares that even beyond this general integration, regulated industries that use LiveScan fingerprinting see an immense increase in speed of capture and submission process.

Although automation can simplify the background check process dramatically, Dyer explains that there are certain delicate areas where accuracy can vary, and technology and automation could actually be detrimental. “For example, in order to know the most update information on a county criminal search (which is necessary to comply with the law), a visit to the court by a human being is needed, in most cases,” says Dyer. “Pinging a database or grabbing whatever the last known status was from a database is not accurate, and will get employers into hot water. The most accurate background checks utilize a blend of technology with old school investigative processes that only a trained human being can facilitate.”


Tags: January February 2016

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