Quality, efficiency, cost, risk. Regardless of the talent market or economic environment, these remain important criteria that programs seek to fuel success. And while background checks may not be the most prominent component of your program, they should be top of mind as you seek to quickly and safely add the best contingents to your workforce.

Speed is the quality most employers look for when choosing a screening provider, according to 68% of North American respondents from HireRight’s 2023 Global Benchmark Survey, up from 53% in the 2022 survey. Conducted between Feb. 15 and March 12, the survey included responses from more than 2,000 HR, risk and talent acquisition professionals worldwide, with 1,465 of those responses from North America.

“Whether businesses are expanding their head count or replenishing staff turnover, time to hire is usually an important factor for hiring organizations, so it’s no great surprise to see how many businesses consider this an essential quality in their screening provider,” Mary O’Loughlin, managing director of the Americas at HireRight, wrote in HR Daily Advisor.

Perhaps more importantly, the talent is also seeking a quicker path to an assignment, making a long and cumbersome hiring/onboarding process a deal breaker for many candidates. This can create challenges — especially with organizations increasingly adapting post-pandemic remote work policies. Your background check policy can help improve your candidate experience, advises Kristen Faris, senior VP, customer success, solutions and partnerships at background screening firm Checkr. And using technology to really streamline all of the processes, including background screening, can definitely improve time to fill, which ultimately improves hiring rates.

“If you take too long, you snooze, you lose,” Faris warns. “Those candidates are going to go away. And so, use things like mobile technology, making sure you’re meeting the candidate where they are. They’re looking for their jobs online, and they want to apply with one click. They don’t want to have to go back in and fill out a bunch of additional information for the background check.”

Hence, it is important to ensure that your systems are all integrated so you can collect as much of the needed relevant information as you can upfront and then carry that information all the way through the process. Avoid a disjointed process that requires a candidate to fill out the same information for the application, background check form, onboarding paperwork, etc.

“Definitely think about automation and mobile technology,” Faris says.

Candidate Engagement

While hiring companies want to fill shifts quickly, candidates also typically want to get to work as soon as possible; hence, it’s a competitive advantage to make the process as smooth and user friendly as possible. Background screening companies are tapping a new class of tech, such as chatbots to help guide the candidate through the process with pings and text notifications advising of additional information needed, delays, etc.

“The more that you can kind of stay in front of the candidate through notifications, and then providing a lot of visibility and transparency into that whole process, the more likely they are to stay engaged and to not drop out,” says Faris.

Remain Vigilant

Post-pandemic, many companies accepted a more hybrid work model, blending together full-time employees with contingent workers as a way to maintain flexibility and control costs. One of the reasons for an increase in the contingent workers after the pandemic was the acceptance of remote work, which allows organizations to hire skill-based contingent workers with expertise in niche areas regardless of their location.

As organizations began ramping up screening this segment, they started to see increased fraud and a need for robust screening across these programs that meet their internal policies, according to Joy Henry, head of technology and business services at Sterling, a background screening and identity verification provider.

“Workplace safety and trust must remain at the forefront of hiring. Even though contingent workers aren’t full-time employees, they may still have access to sensitive information, interact with customers and represent the employer brand,” she says.

Properly screening this segment of the workforce will improve organizations’ trust and safety programs.

“Good, clear communication with candidates setting expectations about the hiring process improves hiring rates,” Henry says. “This works hand in hand with a strong and easy-to-use candidate experience.”


In next week’s CWS 3.0, we discuss regulatory concerns with background check usage, including “clean slate” and fair chance hiring laws.