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Five Ways to Improve the Candidate Experience for Background Checks

By Ben Goldberg, CEO, CareerBuilder Employment Screening, LLC

Ben Goldberg, CEO, CareerBuilder Employment Screening, LLC

When a prospective employee is in the hiring process, and especially throughout the background check or interview process, it’s important to design and delicately manage their experience. When job seekers feel poorly treated or confused, it costs companies in myriad ways. According to recent CareerBuilder research, a negative experience with a company’s HR technology can greatly affect a candidate’s opinion of the company overall. Fifty-six percent of candidates think less of a company if they have a poor experience with their HR technology.

"Efforts to manage the screening process can help leave those hired and those not selected feel better about the hiring company"

A particular point of concern for many candidates is the background screening process. This process is filled with uncertainty and stress for many people as they wonder what’s involved and how their results might affect their chances of being selected. A poorly conducted background check is one of the most common reasons employers lose candidates that have accepted job offers—21 percent of employers who have lost candidates that have accepted a job offer say it was because background screening took too long, and 20 percent said it was because a candidate had a poor experience with background screening.

Your efforts to manage the screening process can go a long way to leaving those you hire, and even those you ultimately do not select, feeling better about your company. To avoid losing quality candidates, take a look at your background check process closely and follow these five strategies:

1. Pick the best partner: Twenty-nine percent of employers made a bad hire because they received bad information about the candidate. Remember employment screening and the process is heavily regulated–federal, state and local law govern the preparation and use of background reports when prepared by a third party. Make sure your provider keeps up with compliance standards, is National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) accredited, and ensures the candidate is informed and supported. Know if your reports will be completed in the US or internationally and the impact to service, verification quality, and candidate confidence.

2. Know your process: Put yourself in your candidate’s shoes and test the process yourself. Not only is it crucial for those hiring to experience the process firsthand, it is important to seek direct feedback from candidates. Yet, less than half (44 percent) of respondents to the CareerBuilder survey said they have never tested their system themselves to see what the candidate experience is like. When employers do test their process, they identify a less than ideal candidate experience, with around 1 in 6 (14 percent) rating their background check candidate experience as fair or poor.

3. Keep it simple: According to CareerBuilder’s 2017 Candidate Experience Study, 2 in 5 candidates (41 percent) would not rate their experience as “easy.”Don’t assume candidates know how the background check process works or that they’re automatically comfortable with it. Be sure to explain the process, the role of technology, what they will need to do, how they will be kept informed and how to get their questions answered.

4. Remember timing is key: For every day you’re waiting for a background check to be complete, you’re losing money–it could be hundreds of thousands of dollars-and those open positions you’re recruiting for may be filled by somebody else. But on the flip side, if you don’t get a thorough report, you put your reputation at risk of losing business and potential lawsuits. According to the Candidate Behavior Study, nearly a third (31 percent) of candidates say, in their experience, the turnaround time is too long. Typically, background checks should return in less than five business days, but on average take 24-72 business hours to complete.

5. Make the process transparent: As stated above there are many reasons to keep the applicant updated and to communicate directly, but the main reason is you’re creating a pathway to transparency and trust. This transparency provides applicants proper notifications based on regulations, but also provides recruiters status notification to meet achieve targeted start date. Background checks are not a black box, but rather, a supply chain of data acquisition and research. Gaining clear visibility through screening technology into the background checks progress helps all involved stay aligned.

The repercussions of a poor candidate experience can be extensive and powerful. One of the most important assets of any organization is its people. Anything that interferes with the acquisition, retention and productivity of employees is costly–you could not only be losing your best candidates, but also damaging your organization’s brand and even negatively affecting your bottom line. Employers that consider how their background screening process impacts the candidate, including informing and educating applicants about the process, could substantially improve their candidate experience.

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