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What Hiring Managers Need to Know About the Background Check Process

Date Published: May 24, 2024 | Last Updated: June 05, 2024 | By Suraiya Sarwar

Time to hire is an important metric in HR circles. In some cases, being first with an offer can make the difference between success and failure for the hiring manager — and the organization, especially when recruiting for scarce or high-demand roles.

Face it. Few candidates only put themselves before a single potential employer. Chances are they’re engaged in at least a handful of interviews, and given one of their “top of the list” potential employers coming through with an offer, the answer is likely to be “yes.”

Background checks are one part of the hiring process that can impact that time-to-hire metric. Remember that even organizations conducting background checks only after an offer has been made may still risk having the accepted offer withdrawn if the process drags on or another offer comes through.

Ensuring that your hiring managers are well apprised of the process, its steps, and why those steps are important, can put them in a better position to educate and inform candidates about the process — and safeguard a more positive candidate experience. Here we look at some things hiring managers need to know and some best practices for ensuring they remain informed:

There are three big buckets or categories these “need to know” items could fall into:

  • To understand the employer’s needs/concerns.
  • To understand the candidate’s needs/concerns.
  • To understand their own needs/concerns.

Let’s take a look at each.

Employer’s Needs/Concerns

Don’t assume hiring managers fully understand the background check process, why it’s being done, or what information is being gathered. Provide training to help them understand how the process works, why the checks are important to the organization, and how long it is expected to take.

Make sure to cover the importance of compliance with relevant laws and regulations like the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and Equal Employment Opportunity (EEOC) guidelines.

Arming hiring managers with this information addresses some of these concerns and helps them address candidates’ concerns if questions arise.

Candidate’s Needs/Concerns

Candidates also have potential concerns about the background check process. They’ll want to know which types of background checks are being conducted, why, where the information is coming from, if they’ll be able to review and potentially correct or append information gathered, and who will have access to the information.

Privacy is an obvious concern. Let hiring managers know that candidates will be informed of the process and the checks being conducted; they will have the opportunity to consent to the information being gathered andreview and respond to information gathered. Make it clear that all candidates will be subject to the same background check experience — it’s not done on a piecemeal or individual basis.

Candidates will also be concerned about the amount of time involved. How long will the background check take, and how will that affect their hire date?

Hiring Manager Needs/Concerns

The better you can recognize and respond to hiring managers’ questions and potential concerns, the higher the likelihood that they will become an ally in the process. It’s important to ensure hiring managers understand background checks are conducted for all candidates.

Like others, they’ll also want to know why certain background checks are being done, how the information will be used, and the timeframe. They’ll also want to know what type of information could cause them to overlook or withdraw an offer to a candidate.

Hiring managers can benefit from training on how to interpret background check reports and understand their obligations, especially concerning adverse action procedures and compliance with discrimination laws.

There are several best practices that HR teams can follow to ensure transparent and ongoing communication with hiring managers about the background check process.

Best Practices for Ongoing and Transparent Communication

Ensuring effective communication about background check processes with hiring managers isn’t just a one-time event. It’s a process that should occur over time and be reviewed and updated to ensure continuous improvement and to address any issues, opportunities, or questions that may have emerged.

There are a variety of communication tools and channels that can be used:

  • Policies. It’s important to have a comprehensive policy that includes the procedures for background checks, when and how they will be done, what information will be gathered, how results will be evaluated, the role that hiring managers and candidates will have in the process, relevant laws or regulations that are being followed, consent and opportunities for candidates to review and comment on or append information gathered.
  • Training. Periodic training sessions for hiring managers should cover the same points covered in your policy. Include real-life scenarios, a review of frequently asked candidate questions and recommended responses, and an opportunity for Q&A. This training can be done as part of hiring managers’ onboarding process and might also be made available online asynchronously so they can access the information as a refresher whenever they’re going through a new hire process. If managers are asked to deliver the results to candidates (instead of or in addition to the HR department), also provide training on sharing this information and ensuring compliance with FCRA’s adverse action procedure.
  • Touch base with hiring managers when a new search is about to be conducted, updating them on any changes and reviewing any questions about their role.
  • Clear communication with candidates during the hiring process, also including the hiring manager, with information about how the process will work, the candidates’ role and what they should expect, and who to contact with any questions or concerns during the process. Keep candidates and hiring managers informed about the process and when they should expect to hear the results.
  • Feedback mechanisms. It’s not unlikely that both candidates and hiring managers will have questions or feedback about the background check process, and it’s important to offer convenient opportunities for them to share that input. Their insights can help improve both the process and communication in the future.

An open, transparent communication environment where information about the background check process is shared regularly and thoroughly can help address underlying questions while ensuring that hiring managers are partners and collaborators, rather than detractors, in the process.

Accurate Background helps create a seamless hiring experience for your candidates, and a more positive candidate experience. Learn more.