As an employer, you already see the benefits of employee background screening in action. It helps you make well-informed hiring decisions and manage hiring risks for your organization. 

But for candidates, the prospect of an employment background check may be a source of worry, frustration, or even confusion. Candidates may not understand what is involved in a background check, their rights, or how the information yielded from a background check can influence their employment opportunities.

Based on what candidates know about background checks or what they’ve experienced in the past with other employers, it can be challenging for them to undergo background screening with your company. However, by taking deliberate steps to clarify the background screening process, you can keep candidates informed and help them navigate the screening process successfully.

How to Demystify the Employee Background Screening Process

Though the most recent PBSA employer survey revealed that 95 percent of employers use background screening, not all companies screen all candidates. Therefore, it’s likely you will still encounter candidates who have never gone through the background check process. Even individuals who have had the experience before may have some misconceptions about the process and how it will affect their future employment prospects. 

For example, candidates may have confusion about the following:

  • What is included in an employee background check
  • How long it takes to complete a background check
  • How far back background checks go
  • Which drugs are included in a drug test, and how drug screening results are interpreted
  • What happens if something in their past is deemed a risk by a prospective employer 

Instead of potentially losing great candidates because they are uninformed about employee background screening, look for opportunities to clarify candidate concerns and give them the information they need to confidently approach your screening process. Take the following actions to demystify the background check and provide candidates with some much-needed behind-the-scenes transparency.

Conducting an audit is the best way to assess your entire background screening  program. Don’t know where to start? We can help>>>

1. Be transparent about your screening process at the start of the interview process.

As anyone ever involved in a job search can attest, it can be frustrating to encounter surprises at the end of a lengthy interview process, especially if it appears an offer is forthcoming. If you wait too late in the process to add a slew of new interviewers or tell candidates about a background check process they didn’t know existed, you can not only damage the candidate experience, but also potentially send candidates running away to pursue other opportunities. 

Don’t wait until you’ve made an offer to let candidates know they will be asked to undergo a background check. Instead, explain the process clearly and upfront so there are no surprises. That way, candidates know what’s coming and have ample opportunities to ask any questions they might have.

2. Explain why you run background checks.

While some may see background checks as just a formality, it’s a good idea to help candidates understand the value employee background screening offers to your organization and workforce. Doing so offers a great opportunity to help candidates see that you’re not just performing a check to identify criminal activity and verify their credentials. You’re also taking steps to protect your workforce, visitors, and customers. 

Be sure to include the many reasons you rely on background checks as part of a well-run hiring process, for example:

  • To build a high-quality workforce all employees can be proud of
  • To support the development of a drug-free workplace
  • To make sure new hires have the necessary credentials to perform their jobs
  • To comply with industry-specific screening requirements, for example, in the healthcare industry

3. Help candidates understand their legal rights during the screening process.

It’s important for candidates to recognize that a thorough background check doesn’t include using any means to pry into every aspect of their past. To dispel such a myth, take steps to let candidates know your organization works with a screening provider that follows applicable federal and state laws regarding background checks.

For example, by working with a provider that helps you follow a thorough disclosure and authorization process in compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you can be assured candidates know their legal rights and how their background information will be obtained and used.

4. Share what will be checked (and what won’t).

Given that some candidates may think employee background screening intrudes into their past more than it does, it’s worthwhile to clarify any misconceptions they might have about what is included in a background check and what isn’t. For example, if your organization checks criminal, educational, and employment history, but not social media activity or any activity beyond the last seven years, let candidates know.

Another area to provide clarity is drug screening. Given the large number of states that have recently added new marijuana legislation, candidates may need more clarity about which drugs you include in your drug screening program and which you don’t, whether that’s marijuana or another drug.

5. Help candidates understand the steps of their background check.

In today’s highly competitive job market, the last thing you need is a cumbersome or lengthy background check process that causes you to lose candidates. To prevent this from happening, let candidates know the steps and timeframe of your background check process, and when they can expect it to conclude. 

For example, you can share the following background screening information:

  • How long the employee background screening process takes after candidates have submitted their disclosure and authorization forms
  • The timeframe for making drug testing appointments and receiving results
  • In the event of a dispute, how long candidates have to review their background check report and submit new information

6. Use background check technology to run your screening process efficiently.

Screening technology automates the background check process and makes it easier for candidates to share the personal information needed to complete the screening process. Instead of wasting time sending candidates forms back and forth over email, work with a screening provider that uses customizable, proprietary screening technology to improve the candidate experience. 

Screening technology enables candidates to navigate the screening process more efficiently, helping them avoid unnecessary email and voicemail messages with your talent acquisition team. By lessening the time it takes for candidates to fulfill their responsibilities in the background check and drug screening process, you can get that much closer to transitioning from screening to hire and onboarding. 

Here are just a few examples of what you can do with the aid of employee background screening technology:

  • Use a paperless disclosure and authorization process to start the background check process quicker.
  • Provide candidates with mobile tools for finding nearby drug testing centers and scheduling screening appointments.
  • Use optional in-app messaging to enable screening analysts to confirm information such as names and addresses directly with candidates.


Continuously Improve Your Employee Background Screening Program

Though you may already have clear policies and processes for operating your background screening program, there is likely more you can do to enhance the process—for candidates and your workforce.
After all, even the most effective background screening programs can benefit from a fresh look and periodic injections of new best practices.

Given advancements in technology and changing compliance requirements, background screening is an ever-evolving part of your hiring process. By reviewing your existing practices and looking for new ways to improve efficiency, compliance, and better experiences for candidates, you can keep your screening program in good operational health. For additional insights, read the Guide to Auditing and Improving Your Background Screening Program.

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