You’ve been using a background check service provider for some time now, and you’re really not happy with what they’re providing. You’re in the process of switching to another provider and are considering various options.
What questions should you ask as you contact other providers to help you make an informed choice?
Here we look at some broad areas of exploration and specific questions you should ask as you interview potential background check providers.
What’s the Process?
One important question that can yield some important insights is asking what the background provider’s process is. How and what kind of background checks do they provide? How do they gather the information?
And, importantly, how long will it take?
Ross Jurewitz, founder and managing attorney with Jurewitz Law Group says time matters. That’s particularly true in this tight employment environment. “Are you going to have to wait for a turnaround time of a couple of weeks? A couple of days? This can greatly impact your hiring or consultation process, so it’s very important to know,” he says. Fortunately, he notes, “a lot of services list their turnaround times on their websites.” If they don’t, though, make sure to ask.
Sharon Dylan is the co-founder of, and a career coach with, Management Help, LLC. Like Jurewitz, she believes understanding the firm’s timeline is critical. “They should be able to provide a close timeline as to what you were using before, or even better, a more compressed timeline to provide results,” she says. In this hiring environment, Dylan says, “a quick employee onboarding timeline can spell the applicant’s acceptance of the job offer or not.”
Importantly, though, Dylan adds, providers need to “be able to meet a compressed timeline without compromising the quality of the applicant.” She recommends asking for sample background checks they have done previously to help assess their capabilities.
In addition to understanding how your company will interact with the firm and the process they use, it’s equally important to understand the candidate experience.
The Candidate Experience
How does the background check process impact the candidate experience? The impact can be significant—again, this is especially true due to the competitive hiring situation employers now face.
What should candidates expect? A user-friendly platform; an easy onboarding process for providing their information; timely, open, and transparent communication; complete privacy and data security.
Candidates need to be kept informed throughout the process and have some indication of how long the process will take. After all, chances are they’re considering more than one company as a potential employer.
Communication and customer service are also important areas of inquiry.
Communication and Customer Service
You’ll want to work with a provider that communicates regularly to keep both your company and your candidates up-to-date on the background screening process. You’ll also want to explore how the company addresses potential service breakdowns.
What kind of support and service are offered? Are you able to interact with customer support staff? Are they available 24/7/365? How are issues resolved and what percentage of those issues can be resolved in a single call?
In addition to these broad areas of inquiry, there are a number of specific questions you’ll want to get answers to as you make a decision about the service you will eventually use.
Dive Into the Details
Dive into the details with the service providers you’re considering. Here are some of the questions we believe are most important to explore:
- What types of background checks do you provide? Note, that not all may be necessary for you, but some may be extremely important—you want to make sure the provider excels in the areas where you need information.
- How long has your company been in business?
- What industries do you have experience with?
- How many background checks have you conducted? How many, on average, do you conduct in a year?
- Do you belong to the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA), the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) Are you accredited?
- Are your systems and processes compliant with the latest federal and state laws, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)?
- Are you up-to-date and compliant with I-9 and E-Verify requirements, including how they have, and are, changing during the pandemic?
- What role, if any, does social media play in your background checking processes? Do you use compliant social media screening software that meets ADA and EEOC reporting guidelines?
- Do you offer integration with companies’ existing ATS/HRI systems? Jodi Brandsetter, an HR expert and the author of HR by Design and Hire by Design says: “To ensure candidate experience is streamlined, background check vendors need to integrate with ATS or HRIS so that a candidate can complete the paperwork online and so that HR may easily review background check results.”
- Do you work with offshore staff for customer support? “You want to understand who will be handling the background check as well as communicating with your new hire/HR,” says Brandsetter. “Understanding if they offshore will help you communicate with your new hires so that you provide a transparent candidate experience and set expectations from the start.”
- Can you conduct global background screening? This is especially important in an increasingly remote environment where companies may literally be recruiting from around the world.
- Do you offer continuous background screening services and how does your process work?
Taking a thoughtful and thorough approach to choosing a background screening service provider can help you make the right choice—a choice that will serve you well for years to come through a partnership designed to efficiently and accurately help you hire the best candidates you can find.
Want to learn more about switching background screening providers? Our product, compliance, and solutions teams complied this extensive guide to switching background screening providers, complete with checklists and a sample project management plan.