The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word “communication” as to convey knowledge or information about; make known. To reveal by clear signs. To cause information to pass from one to another. To open up to each other, to CONNECT. To transmit information, thought, or feeling so that it is satisfactorily received. To communicate a story.”
Is that how you would describe the communication between you, your candidates, and your background screening provider? Do you feel like your provider is a true partner, completing the circle between you and your candidates? If so, you can stop here. If not, read on to see what you might be missing.
Importance of Communication Between Employers and Screening Providers
Everyone is aware of the importance of good communication, but it becomes even more essential in the oft-murky world of background screening. In the early days, background screening was done behind a curtain and transparency was discouraged. Many screening companies looked for as much negative information as possible and reported everything found with little regard for accuracy or how the information may impact the employer or the candidate. The longer the report the better. The more “flags” it contained, even better.
Then, as we all gained a better understanding of the FCRA and state and local legislation, along with EEOC guidance, and how all of this relates to the background screening industry (not just credit data), the curtain started to come down. The majority of Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs) now adhere to the “highest possible accuracy” standards when conducting background checks and have instituted “best practice” policies to ensure the standards are strictly followed.
Today, you should expect your screening partner to be open and educational on the screening process. The sources used, where the data resides, security of the data, and how it is searched should be important not only when conducting checks but when selecting a screening provider. This information should be shared in an easy-to-understand format and you should feel you have the knowledge you need to help you make informed and sound hiring decisions.
So what are the consequences of poor communication? For those of us fortunate enough to have been in the screening industry a while, we understand that there are still challenges trying to compare apples to apples when it comes to services or packages from one screening company to another. It seems every company has a better, faster, cheaper way to get information on your candidates. Rushing the process and not providing you with informative and actionable information leaves you open to all sorts of potential issues. Over the years, we’ve learned through litigation and class-action lawsuits against employers that faster and cheaper does not necessarily mean better. Your screening partner should have procedures and policies in place that will help guide you in the process and help you avoid potential pitfalls.
Importance of Communication Between Screening Providers and Candidates
Your candidate shouldn’t be just a signature on a consent form to your screening partner. Do you know what communication is taking place? It is, after all, the candidate’s data that is being researched and provided to you. As an employer, you want to ensure you have factual data when making your hiring decisions. You may not realize the impact of your decision on your candidates and you could be missing out on qualified talent based on outdated or inaccurate information.
Screening companies should engage with candidates from the very beginning. Chances are your screening partner is collecting the required data and consent from your candidates directly, whether through an integrated ATS or custom online portal. Throughout this process, candidates should be given instructions that are easy to understand and follow. If any part of the required information is missing, the application process should be immediately paused and the candidate contacted to collect supporting documentation that provides explanation to the employer. When all required information is gathered from the beginning, it reduces the likelihood of delays in completing the screening process.
Should your candidate need to dispute any portion of their report, your partner should support you with guidance on pre- and adverse- action steps and be responsive to the candidate to ensure a quick resolution. After all, you have positions to fill and candidates that want to work. Both of you should not be made to wait on a screening provider with an unclear, unorganized dispute process.
In the end, good communication between you/your screening partner and your candidates comes down to respect. Many times, we tend to focus solely on the employer, but ultimately, our customer is the candidate. Screening companies need strict protocols in place that are fully understood by all members of their organization on how to effectively communicate with candidates. They may be job applicants, current employees seeking a promotion, or volunteers that are relying on the background check results to paint an accurate picture to those making these important decisions. Their concerns should be listened to and addressed as quickly as possible. Communication to candidates during the screening process is vital and holds us accountable for each and every background check we conduct.
Communication is a seemingly simple task that is often overlooked, misunderstood, or minimized. Take some time to think about how and when you, your screening partner, and your candidates are interacting and how communication can be enhanced and improved. You may find the solutions to issues that you’ve been missing all along. This is for the record.
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