Speed and accuracy in background checks

Filling vacant positions quickly is paramount. Especially in industries such as health care, where patients really do need urgent expert assistance that could save their lives. Yet at the same time, making rush hiring decisions could ultimately put patients’ lives at risk. Today we will talk about the balance between speed and accuracy in background checks.

We often see news reports of fraudsters that have put other people’s lives at risk. Even caused harm by slipping through the recruitment process to carry on a career that they were never qualified to do.

Here are some shocking examples of fraudsters holding professional positions that could have ended in disaster. 

Fake doctor puts patients’ lives at risk: New Zealand police in August 2022 were called to investigate the case of a fake doctor, who had used counterfeit documents to secure a job in the respiratory department of an Auckland hospital. The man had claimed to have attended a medical university but investigations revealed he’d never enrolled. Moreover he had forged a fake student ID.

Fake pilot flies passengers to Gatwick: Unqualified commercial pilot Micheal Fay was convicted of fraud for faking papers to get a job with Libyan firm Afriqiyah Airways. He flew an Airbus A320 aircraft for several months. Flying passengers into Gatwick Airport on eight occasions, after forging his license and medical certificates. He would have continued if it wasn’t for a genuine pilot whose suspicions were raised by the fake pilot’s comments on an internet forum.

Aside from the potential dangers these people caused to the public, the incidents are of course highly embarrassing for those responsible for vetting and hiring individuals for such positions with huge responsibility towards public safety. 

The fraudsters conning employers are cunning. They look for loopholes or avenues where they can bypass background screening. This highlights the importance of having a robust vetting process in place. So how do we balance to make the recruitment process quick yet thorough enough to avoid catastrophe and embarrassment?

The crux of the issue is keeping the time to fill a vacancy or the time to hire short enough to keep the potential employee engaged, while being carrying out all the background checks required. When it comes to the medical or aviation industry for example, there’s a need for speed and accuracy in background checks. However it can indeed be time consuming.

Time to fill vs Time to hire

Briefly, there’s a difference between the meanings of ‘Time to fill’ and ‘Time to hire’.

Time to fill

A measure of the number of days taken from the moment a job opening is posted to when the offer is accepted.

Time to hire

A measure of when the candidate enters the recruitment process until the offer is accepted.

The time to hire in different industries varies greatly depending on the qualifications and responsibilities required for those positions.

The average time to hire for manual labour in say the construction industry is less than two weeks. Because employers don’t usually require a background verification. However, at a bare minimum, employers should always carry out criminal background checks even for the most menial jobs. The time to hire for more professional positions such as business services, manufacturing and education typically takes about one month. 

The financial services and healthcare sectors have the longest average time to hire. It takes typically a month and a half or 45 – 50 days, due the requirement for full spectrum background checks. From criminal records checks to qualification and certification validation as well as verifying accounts of previous employment.

Ultimately the balance between the time to hire and thoroughness of background screening we aim to achieve comprises three elements:

  1. The shortest possible time to hire without cutting corners
  2. A good candidate experience
  3. A streamlined path to onboarding and least disruption to productivity

Background screening legal requirements

The responsibilities on employers’ shoulders weighs heavy when hiring individuals for positions requiring professional qualifications such as those in the healthcare sector. There is of course a huge social responsibility but also a legal one.

Employers of medical professionals in the US have to comply with legal requirements established by agencies such as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the U.S. Office of the Inspector General (OIG).

How to achieve an ideal balance between speed and accuracy in background checks

Most of our clients understand and demand a balance of speed and accuracy with at least half prioritizing accuracy over speed. Here’s how we work with employers to strike an ideal balance between the two:  

Understand the cause of delays

Employers can reduce delays by preempting where hold-ups can occur in the hiring process so they can take measures to mitigate such delays that would otherwise be beyond the employer’s control. These can include:   

  • Incomplete candidate information
  • Manual processing of applications
  • Slow responses from employment references and education verification sources

Develop clear background check policies and processes

Having clear guidelines and policies in place gives you a head start in mitigating potential delays. You give all involved in the recruitment process a solid foundation for making decisions quickly. Digitizing and automating the hiring process wherever possible drastically cuts time, too, reducing the need for HR staff to manually scour through piles of applications.

Wherever possible, you can cut down the time to hire period by requesting bulk background checks and by including paperless disclosure and authorization to minimize the potential for candidate disputes.

Use an industry specialist background screening agency

Knowing the credentials required for a specific industry is an essential qualification that the background screening provider should themselves have. Our experience as an international background screening agency has taught us a great deal about the nuances of legal requirements in different countries, and in the US. We help employers choose which aspects of the screening process to include or not include depending on those requirements, saving time by eliminating unnecessary tasks with balanced speed and accuracy in background checks. Ask us about our international background screening processes to fit your hiring needs, wherever you are in the world.