It seems like I’ve been having the same conversation with a ton of people lately. The questions that start the conversation may be different, but the question at the heart of it all is, “what is a background check, really?”
I think the question is coming up more for a couple of reasons. First, more and more medium and small sized companies have realized they need to be screening. Like insurance, it is a protection they need to have in place. Second, with all the government bailout money available for new programs, companies are required to have screening system in place to be eligible to receive government contracts or work with companies that have them.
So, HR generalists around the country are being asked to set up background checking procedures. In most cases, the HR generalist is does a Google search and subsequently a “pin the tail on the donkey” selection process. The problem is, not all background checking companies are the same. Lots of companies that call themselves background screeners are actually just “data providers.” So, what’s the difference?
Supplier selection, oversight and data management are required to make sure the data being searched is reliable, consistent and accurate. A quality screening company should be able explain how and where they get their data and what steps they take to make sure the data is accurate.
“Data providers” will give you a login and password and then set you on your way. Professional background screeners will provide multiple order entry options and post regular and timely updates regarding the status of your order. You want a partner, not a web vending machine.
All of the data a background screener gathers is subject to human error. Therefore, it’s imperative, that a thorough review of the data collected is done before the hire/no hire decisions are made. This is what you are really paying for. Not all information returned on any background report can be used.
A professional screening company will sort and sift the data to make sure it actually belongs to the applicant in question and that it is legally useable. Juvenile records, dismissed records (and several other categories) cannot be used. If your background screening provider isn’t sorting this information, then the employer must do it.
Applicant’s rights are handled in the post delivery phase. A professional screening company will offer to handle both the dispute resolution process and the adverse action process.
There is no “silver bullet” background check. Don’t let a “data provider” tell you all you need is a national database searches and SSN trace. These searches, by themselves, do not constitute a background search. They are simply tools that allow you to conduct a more targeted and relevant background search.
Remember, the essence of background screening is mitigating risk in the hiring process. A screening partner shares this risk with you…”data providers” don’t want any part of this risk.