More Efficient Background Screening

How to Boost Background Screening Efficiency

The average job hire takes more than a month, and usually more than two months for government positions. Much of the waiting time for job applicants is the background screening process.

Here we’ll go through some of the reasons background screening checks take so long and give you some tips on how both applicants and employers can save time and money by speeding up the background screening process. 

In most companies, the human resources department itself has limited human resources to process applications. A small team in a large corporation can easily receive thousands of applications for just a handful of vacancies, especially in the months just after students have graduated.

Calculate Your Average Time to Hire

First give yourself an idea of how much time your company usually spends hiring people. Use the following formula:

Start with a time period, say a month, 6 months or a year – whichever is an appropriate measure for the size of your company and staff turnover frequency.

In this case, let’s say one month.

Next find the sum of your time-to-hire for each position – from each employee’s application date to their first day of work. For example, you hired 3 people last month. One hire took 14 days, another took 24 days and the third took 26 days.

So that’s 14 + 24 + 26 days, which is 64 days in total.

Divide the total number of days (64) by the number of hires (3 people), which gives you an average time-to-hire of 21.3 days in one month.

That’s a lot of hours, which can be cut almost in half with a strategic job application and background screening process.

Don’t miss a golden opportunity!

Employers often miss golden opportunities to grab good employees with bright futures by making applicants wait while you process applications one by one.

In the meantime, competitors using efficient background screening checks can pounce on highly desirable candidates and quickly get them on the payroll, staying ahead of the game.

What are common background screening checks?

The extent of any background screening checks depends on the nature of the job. Checking the applicant’s education or qualifications isn’t important for some jobs. For other jobs, a few grade points could mean the difference between hiring or refusing, or it could dictate the applicant’s potential pay scale.

Driving Licence Checks

For any job that requires driving, the employer usually requires applicants to have a clean driving licence, or at least a limit to points added or taken away for driving infractions.

In the UK, and applicant or the employer can do a quick check online using the applicant’s driving licence details. In the US, however, checking a driving licence in some states can take 24 – 48 hours.

Education background checks

Recruiters hiring for jobs requiring specific qualifications have to spend time cross checking the grades given on application forms. They also have to verify the authenticity of educational institutions, certificates and examination boards cited on application forms. That means the recruiter has to make phone calls, send emails and sometimes written correspondence.

Any discrepancies will have to be cross checked, all of which is painstakingly time consuming for all parties.

Criminal record background checks

Regardless of educational requirements, most employers want to know whether the person they hire is trustworthy. Having a criminal record doesn’t automatically disqualify an applicant from a job. Employers should use discretion. An applicant might have a police record for a misdemeanour or a driving offence bearing no relation to the job.

If the applicant is honest about any dealings with the law, that in itself helps establish some trust with the employer that the applicant is not hiding something.

Who does a criminal background check?

In some countries, the onus is on the individual applying for a job to request a criminal record check from the local police. In the UK, either the applicant or the employer can request a basic disclosure criminal background check, which will show any convictions as well as cautions.

Having a criminal record background check done can take anywhere between 5 minutes and five days or more, depending on bureaucratic procedures.

Enhanced Background Checks

Background screening for jobs with high responsibility goes deeper. Applicants can’t do these checks themselves. Employers seeking applicants to fill positions in education, healthcare, childcare, finance and law must carry out further background checks to be certain the applicants haven’t been flagged or listed as a risk to other members of the community.

A minimum of one week is usually required to do enhanced background checks (DBS) in the UK, for example.

Save Time & Money on Background Screening

The time spent on screening, much of which is waiting time, costs organizations a lot of time and money but it is money well spent. It’s estimated that a typical organization loses 5% of its annual revenue to occupational fraud. Other risks to companies and staff from unscreened employees include abuse, violence, or drugs and alcohol in the workplace.

Nevertheless, you can drastically cut the time taken to screen applicants and save money. Here are some tips to speed things up.

Prevent time wasters from applying

Some people desperate for work send applications to as many places as they can without reading the job description and without really knowing anything about the job.

This is especially true with online recruitment websites and agencies where job seekers can send their CVs in a single click. So if you’re an employer posting a job vacancy, try the following to weed out the one-click applicants:

  • Be clear about your recruiting process and background screening in job postings.

  • Be very specific about your expectations, the job description and background screening requirements.

  • Inform applicants how long they should expect to wait for screening and interviews.

  • Inform applicants whether they must provide their own criminal record documents.

  • Tell them what background checks you intend to do.

  • Ask the applicants to supply you with information that you’ve put in the job description. This way you’ll know whether the applicant actually read the entire job ad. It could be something simple such as asking the applicant to quote a reference number or a phrase in their introduction letter.

  • Filter out all useless applications by ignoring those who ignored your clear instructions in the job description.
  • Automate & Consolidate

    Review your current hiring process. The first step of processing applications is labour intensive. It’s a laborious task of data entry. You’re losing precious time here.

    Find out from HR personnel what suggestions they have for streamlining the process.

    Go paperless wherever possible and find software that can process applications in batches while keeping tabs on individual applications.

    Use a system that makes it easy for you and the applicant to contact each other and get feedback quickly. For example, applications and authorizations can be done with e-signatures or digital signatures.

    In some locations it’s possible for applicants to send medical and drug test results using mobile technology.

    Use Dedicated Background Checking Personnel

    Despite all the wonderful ways today’s tech can save time for an HR department, there’s no replacement for real people doing a job that is, after all, dedicated to finding other good people to work for you.

    In-house HR teams are usually stretched to the limit. Their duties cover a wide range of employee relations aside from hiring and firing.

    If you’re spending over 20 hours on a single hire, paying a professional background screening agency makes good business sense to save time and money.

    You can decide for yourself how much involvement a background screening agency has in your recruiting process.

    You can hand the agency only shortlisted applications and have them use their expertise and resources to do all the background checks mentioned earlier. Or you can hand over the entire recruitment process, including background screening with your specific requirements.

    All you’ll have to do is interview the shortlisted candidates that have already been thoroughly screened ahead of time.