Background Checks: 9 Big Mistakes Recruiters Still Make

If you're a recruiter who wants to WOW, don't make these mistakes when it comes to background checks.

Mistake #1: You treat the background check as an administrative process rather than an effective tool for making informed hiring decisions.

We still encounter too many recruiters who perform background checks as an admin task—something to cross off on a long list of pre-hire to-do's. This approach is a waste of everyone's time and money.

A thorough background check can provide you with critical insights to make better hiring decisions. For example, you likely already know that many people lie on their resumes about important data points, such as employment history or degrees and certifications. Wouldn't you agree that weeding out candidates who misrepresent themselves and their experience is critical to making successful hiring decisions?


A thorough, compliant background check will help you deliver capable and qualified applicants to employers.

Mistake #2: You think contemporary services, such as social media screening, aren't necessary.

For so long, basic verifications (e.g., employment, education) and criminal background checks were the gold standard in employee screening. But times have changed. While those items still matter, we now have other relevant information available as well—info that can often provide better insights into a person's character. And as we like to say at Good Egg, character matters.

For example, a criminal background check won't tell you if the person is a bigot. Pre-employment verifications won't show you that the person has a history of sharing sexually explicit materials.

But a compliant social media screening can catch those things since it focuses on content from four critical categories:

  • Racist or intolerant
  • Sexually explicit
  • Potentially illegal
  • Potentially violent

A thorough and compliant social media screening will help make sure you're avoiding people who could disrupt the workplace and damage the brand.

Mistake #3: You think you can conduct social media screenings on your own.

On the other side, we often encounter recruiters who recognize the value in social media screening. The problem is they think they can google applicants and browse a candidate's social media profiles themselves. If that describes you, STOP.

If you conduct social screenings on your own, you will encounter protected class information. If you make a hiring decision based on information obtained from a social media search you conduct yourself, you risk violating federal, state, and local antidiscrimination laws, which could result in costly fines and lawsuits. Not to mention, it's impossible to do a thorough social media search yourself and do it well (the Internet is just too vast). The best option is to use compliant third-party vendors that combine the power of AI with the human touch.

Mistake #4: You think fast=good.

Sure, you can place an order online for a background "check" that's turned around almost instantly, but those sorts of speedy checks miss important information, especially when it comes to criminal records.

Why? Well, criminal records exist in over 3,200 county courts in the United States and its territories, and not all are available online. Some exist in paper repositories or repositories that cannot be accessed electronically. Conducting a thorough criminal background check could very well require the services of a researcher (i.e., a court runner) to visit the court and conduct a search on a public access terminal or request paper records from the clerk. All of this takes time. (Learn about other factors that can delay background checks.)

We understand that you want to make quick hiring decisions, but you also want to make smart hiring decisions. The long view is essential here: accept the occasional delay so that you and the organization can enjoy better long-term results.

Mistake #5: You think cheap=good enough.

Cheap checks are like the ones we described above: you get them fast, but they offer little value and zero insights because they provide only surface info.

Keep in mind that the cost of replacing a bad hire can equal thousands and thousands of dollars. It makes more sense to spend a little more up front, hire better people, and experience positive ROI over the long haul.

Mistake #6: You think background check vendors are just that—vendors.

We can forgive this mistake (a little) since the majority of background check vendors are just that—vendors. That said, don't settle. Find a vendor who will truly partner with you.

A good partner will take the time to learn about your hiring processes and challenges and suggest strategies and packages to meet those needs. A good partner will also take a proactive approach, alerting you about delays and regularly checking in to see how things are going.

And yes—partners like this do exist. (Hint, hint: learn more about Good Egg's approach.)

Mistake #7: You say you care about the applicant experience, yet you don't try to improve it.

The best recruiters investigate the applicant experience systematically and strategically. Now, we know what you might be thinking, "I don't have the time!" This goes back to finding a vendor who acts as a partner. A good vendor will help you identify ways to streamline processes for your applicants and help you figure out how to solicit feedback (from surveys, for example, or from sites like Trust Pilot).

Mistake #8: You're stuck in 1999.

If you or your background check vendor is still using paper for any part of the employee screening process, it's time to revisit that process. Paper is so 1999, and it will slow things down considerably. Plus, this approach will irritate applicants and may actually discourage qualified, tech-savvy candidates from seeing you as their next employer. Today's job candidates expect to do everything from their phones.

Mistake #9: You're taking risks when it comes to compliance.

Don't underestimate the importance of compliance. From FCRA to state and local laws and regulations, including adverse action requirements, individualized assessments, and the growing patchwork of fair chance laws that vary by jurisdiction, there are so many ways for the hiring process to fall short. And if this happens, your organization could be facing fines, lawsuits, and the bad press that goes with both.

Ready to become a recruiter rock star?

At Good Egg, we help recruiters make better hiring decisions using thorough and compliant background checks that meet their specific needs. Get started now.

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Stephanie Haft

Posted by Stephanie Haft

Stephanie is the Marketing Manager at Good Egg, and avid quoter of Mel Brooks movies.

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