Searching for a new employee screening company? Keep our background check vendor checklist handy and see how many companies meet the criteria outlined below.
1. Is the background check vendor legit?
Fly-by-night companies do exist. You want to work with a legitimate vendor with vast experience in employment screening services.
Things to look for:
- Does the vendor have a professional website – clear, complete, and error-free?
- Does the vendor have reviews on sites like Trustpilot? A company without any online reviews is just as questionable as one with poor reviews.
- Is the vendor accredited by the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA)? This is the industry gold standard.
2. Does the background check vendor promise instant criminal background checks?
This was a trick question. Instant results sound tempting, but they aren't reliable. While a nationwide criminal database does exist, it is a compilation of information from various sources. The problem? No one really knows how often this database is updated. Also, because the database is a compilation of data, it is not considered a primary source. Vendors who offer instant database checks without validating the records at the source fail to meet industry standards and may run afoul of applicable consumer reporting laws.
So the caveat remains true when it comes to "instant" national criminal background checks: buyer beware. (Read more in this criminal background checks "myth busters" article.)
3. Does the background check vendor take a transactional or relational approach?
A transactional approach might have been OK two decades ago. Now, thanks to online experiences, we crave personalization. Not all background check vendors deliver this personal touch, however.
How can you tell if the background check company you're considering is eager to build a relationship with you rather than simply complete a transaction?
- The sales rep doesn't try to stuff your organization into a box. When you're dealing with a transactional-type vendor, they will try to match you to an existing background screening program. A vendor that's keen on building a relationship, however, will learn about your company and your hiring challenges and goals. From there, the rep will customize a program to meet those needs.
- You have a dedicated account manager. When you have a question or issue, who will you call? A main 1-800 number that puts you in voicemail hell? Or a direct line to a dedicated account rep who knows you, your company, and your screening program? Not all vendors provide the latter.
- Your account manager is proactive, not reactive. Sure, having a responsive account rep is great. But having someone who calls you first because they have suggestions or because they've spotted a potential issue is even better.
- Candidates have a clear point of contact. The candidate experience is just as important as the hiring manager's experience. Work with a vendor who caters to both.
4. Does the background check vendor know how to pivot? Does it embrace innovation?
Recruitment has changed dramatically over the last two decades. Paper resumes are becoming less common as recruiters opt for online applications—or they forgo traditional applications altogether.
The pandemic has disrupted recruitment even further—more and more interviews are being conducted remotely, and more and more companies are embracing remote workforces, even as the country and world open up again for business. The different elements of the hiring process need to adjust accordingly, and this most certainly includes the background check.
Things to look for:
- Innovative companies like to talk up their innovations. Check out press/news pages on the vendor's website or look for pages specifically on background check innovation/technology.
- Look for updates/articles on the site regarding how the company handled disruptions during COVID-19. Again, companies that can adjust quickly—the infamous "pivot"—will be able to serve your organization better during unpredictable times.
- Review product/service pages. Leading-edge companies will lead with the features that differentiate their products/service offerings from competitors.
5. How does the background check vendor enhance the candidate experience?
Candidate experience matters. If you work in HR, you live and breathe this reality every day. Work with a background check vendor that values the importance of candidate experience.
Things to look for:
- Features designed specifically to make the background check process easier for candidates. For example, at Good Egg, we launched candidate text messaging precisely for this reason.
- A truly helpful candidate help center. Candidates should be able to find answers to common questions and easy ways to contact the background check vendor with questions and issues.
- Reviews from candidates that reflect an overall good experience. Trustpilot is an excellent source for candidate reviews.
6. Does the background check vendor's software integrate with your applicant tracking system (ATS)?
The goal is to streamline hiring, not make it harder. Integration with your ATS will be critical. Now, don't necessarily panic if the ATS you use isn't listed on the background check vendor's integrations page. Good vendors often have other integrations in the works.
7. Does the background check vendor offer contemporary screening services or just the basics?
In the "old days," a criminal history check and employment/education verification used to be the gold standard. Those checks are still important, but as humans have evolved, so have our needs for different sorts of background checks.
In addition to contemporary screening options, like social media background checks, does the background check company offer ongoing monitoring services? Ongoing monitoring can be an excellent way to keep tabs on your workforce so that you deliver a safe, productive environment for people to work in.
8. Does the background check vendor have experience in your industry?
A lack of specific industry experience doesn't necessarily need to be a deal breaker. For example, let's say you run an advertising agency with one hundred employees. Industry experience, in this case, is less critical. What will matter more is a background check vendor that is used to serving a smaller business.
That said, for highly regulated industries (e.g., finance, education, law, government), it helps to work with a vendor with specific industry experience since they will have a better understanding regarding the laws and regulations in your industry. DOT background checks are an excellent example of this—you definitely want to work with a vendor that has experience in the transportation industry.
9. How does the background check vendor approach compliance?
A vendor with in-house counsel is ideal. The attorney/compliance manager will be readily available to answer questions and guide clients on specific issues. A good example: When the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) went into effect on January 1, 2020, Good Egg's attorney and compliance manager was tackling this important topic for clients—as well as our blog readers.
Do your due diligence! Carefully evaluate several different background check vendors.
Before making a decision, talk to several companies and see how many meet the criteria outlined in the above background check vendor checklist. (And yes, we'd love for you to consider Good Egg. Get in touch and let's chat!)