How to Vet Top Background Screening Companies

The background check industry is super competitive. (No doubt, you already know this.) While we do believe Good Egg is one of your best options (if not the very best!), we'd be remiss if we didn't acknowledge that there are other quality background check companies out there.

The challenge for you, of course, is this: How should you evaluate top background screening companies so that you can choose the right one for your needs?

Here's what we suggest.

1. Read the background check company's blog.

You've probably reviewed the background check company's website. But a company blog is where the magic happens. Blog articles demonstrate expertise and how current the company is on laws that affect employee screening.

For example, in January, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) went into effect, and our in-house counsel and compliance manager wrote an article that discussed the CCPA's potential impact on background check companies. The article not only demonstrates our expertise, but also our good will in sharing this expertise with the industry at large.

Another example is state marijuana laws. In the last decade, more and more states have legalized medical marijuana, recreational marijuana, or both (yet, at the federal level, marijuana is still considered a Schedule I drug). Again, these changes in state laws have big implications on hiring procedures and pre-hire drug tests. Top background screening companies should have blogs filled with articles that address marijuana laws and employee screening.

BOTTOM LINE: Look for a background check company that produces thoughtful, helpful content on areas directly related to background check procedures and relevant laws.

2. Ask the background check company for a demo.

A product demonstration is an excellent way to see the background check company's software. You'll want to evaluate the software's intuitiveness and whether it provides the functionality you need, such as integration with your applicant tracking software. But a demo is also a great way to get a sense of the people behind the company and how they operate.

When you participate in a demo, you'll probably be interacting with a company sales rep. Is the rep focused only on selling? Or does the sales rep take a more thoughtful approach by asking you questions about your hiring process, your current hiring challenges, what you're hoping to accomplish with a new vendor, and your overall concerns?

BOTTOM LINE: It's a good sign if the sales rep takes the time to ask questions and address your unique situation because it indicates that you'll be treated less like a quota or transaction. A relational approach during the sales process suggests a relational approach post-sale, which is what you want.

3. Give the background check company some hypotheticals.

Top background screening companies love challenges! The best companies understand that when it comes to employee screening, there's no such thing as one size fits all. So you should avoid any company that tries to put your employee screening program in a box.

BOTTOM LINE: By giving the background check company hypothetical situations—perhaps situations your company has faced in the past or that you anticipate it could face in the future—you're providing valuable insights to the sales rep. See if the sales rep presents a customized employee screening solution based on the hypotheticals you gave them.

4. Gauge the background check company's responsiveness.

Unfortunately, not every so-called "top" background screening company in the U.S. is known for its responsiveness to customer questions. They might find it's easier to funnel everyone through the same 1-800 number.

The problem? A generic 1-800 number is not easier for customers and candidates. Ideally, customers should have their own dedicated account manager with a direct line. Candidates should have an easily accessible online candidate help center as well as easy methods (email, phone, text) to communicate with humans.

BOTTOM LINE: Consider companies that truly make an effort with their customer service and candidate experience. Note: Just because your sales rep is responsive, that doesn't mean the responsiveness will continue once you become a customer. Sales reps tend to be responsive since that's their job: to land the sale. You need to know what happens after you sign. Which brings us to our next suggestion.

5. Read the background check company's reviews.

Reading unvarnished reviews on reputable sites like Capterra is a good place to start. Capterra's reviews are incredibly detailed and include pros and cons. Capterra will also list the background check vendor (if available) that a person switched from. You should also read reviews on places like Trustpilot, which will give you a sense of candidate experience.

Doing a cursory search in Google on the background check company's name along with the words "legal issues" could also bring to light pending lawsuits or other situations you should be aware of. Searching for complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau is another option.

BOTTOM LINE: A background check company's market share or longevity doesn't necessarily equate with "best"—you need to define what you mean by "best." Read reviews to see what other customers have to say. Once you do that, you might discover that some of those perceived "top" background check companies might not be the best fit for your organization after all.

6. Use a checklist when comparing background check companies.

Figure out all the things you want in a vendor. Include must-haves and would-be-nice-to-haves. Then, as you vet top background screening companies, use your checklist. Which vendor ticks off the most boxes? The checklist will also help make sure you're comparing apples to apples when it comes to objective things like features/functionality. For example, does it integrate with your ATS—yes or no?

BOTTOM LINE: While a checklist alone shouldn't guide your final decision, a solid checklist could help you whittle down a long list to a short one. Need help coming up with a list? Use this ultimate background check vendor checklist as a springboard.

7. Listen to your gut.

Much of what we describe above involves objectivity. But there's something to be said for subjectivity and listening to your gut. If you're hesitant about a so-called "top" background check company, ask yourself why. Were you dissatisfied with the way the sales process went? Did you get a sense you were being placated rather than truly helped? Are you questioning whether the company's size is truly indicative of its quality—and whether it can take care of your specific hiring needs?

These are all good, valid questions. Sometimes not going with one of the "big" or "most popular" companies might make better business sense, depending on your organization's needs.

BOTTOM LINE: If a company looks great on paper, but something about the company is giving you pause, consider having another sit-down with the sales rep and expressing your hesitations. A truly "top" company that wants your business will listen closely and work hard to address your concerns. You could also consider bringing in a colleague to review your findings and to see if they agree with your selection.

Interested in chatting with Good Egg?

We'd love to learn more about your organization's hiring challenges so that we can recommend a customized solution that will meet your needs. Let's set up a time to chat!


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Danielle Deutsch

Posted by Danielle Deutsch

Danielle is the Senior Digital Marketing Coordinator at Good Egg & Foley Services. In her spare time you can find her either visiting an aquarium, enjoying a Broadway show or competing in a Crossfit competition.

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