How to Find the Right Background Screening Vendor: 10 Questions to Ask

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So you’ve determined that you should be conducting background checks, but getting started can be a daunting process.

An Internet search for screening vendors can turn up dozens upon dozens of possible providers – not to mention options for you to conduct a search yourself using online tools.

Why not just do it that way?

Wouldn’t it save time and money not having to outsource a seemingly simple process like a background check?

Let’s say you want to verify a candidate’s work history.

You’d have to call each one of those employers, track down the right contact at the organization, and potentially wait days for follow-up.

That “simple process” has the potential to fill up the workdays of many people.

What about that “do it yourself” online search tool – perhaps you think it might give you the same information you’d get from a screening vendor.

Keep in mind that depending on the type of information you’re looking for those online databases might not be reliable – they can be outdated and inaccurate.

You could potentially miss an important piece of information or make an employment decision based on bad data.

Doing so could expose your organization to risk from a poorly vetted employer and subject your organization to possible litigation.

Using online and in-house resources to conduct checks can be a risky proposition.

Given the complicated and time-consuming nature of true background screening, it’s a process that’s best left to the experts.

But how do you pick one from that multitude of search results?

Your most important goal is to engage a vendor that meets your organization’s specific needs.

Here are some things to consider and questions to ask of potential vendors:


  1. What is the vendor’s level of flexibility?

    Your organization’s needs are different than anyone else’s – and they may evolve over time. You want a vendor that can meet your unique needs now and into the future. Look for vendors that offer options that are customizable to your needs. Consider if there is an à la carte selection of screenings and services, so you can pick only what you need for a given situation.

  1. What does the menu of services look like?

    It’s highly likely that you don’t want a “one-size-fits-all” type of check for every type of person in your organization. That’s why a vendor should have a broad scope of services that enable you to conduct the right level of screening for your job candidates. For example, will the same vendor be able to do both a quick verification of someone’s national ID and an in-depth vetting of the criteria needed for an executive-level position?

  1. Does the vendor have global capabilities?

    It’s very common that one of your job candidates has lived, worked, or studied in another country. You’d therefore want to know if the vendor can conduct searches outside the United States. Does the vendor have multilingual capabilities? Does the vendor cover all parts of the world where you have operations and or hiring needs? Is there local expertise supporting each area, so that the searches you request are filled to your requirements?

  1. How connected is the vendor?

    Top-notch screening vendors have established integrations with critical informational sources such as county courthouses and credit bureaus. This enables you to get more effectively sourced information in a more efficient manner.

  1. How fast is the turnaround?

    The best screening vendors will enable you to get timely results without sacrificing quality. Do the vendor’s connected systems translate into speedy service? Will you be able to quickly identify potentially adverse findings?

  1. How does the vendor handle data privacy?

    In today’s world, we are all concerned about the handling of personal data. You should ask how the vendor manages compliance with applicable data privacy laws globally.

  1. How easy is it to use the vendor’s offering?

    If a vendor makes it overly complicated to utilize its services, you’ll be at a distinct disadvantage. Your internal users will have a steep learning curve and may not be able to enter information and retrieve results in a timely manner. Consider whether you will be able to simply go online to request and manage your background checks. You’d also what to know if the report itself is easy to understand and adjudicate.

  1. How’s the customer service?

    No matter how perfect a vendor’s solution or system is, it’s likely that you’re going to need assistance from the vendor at some point. Ask whether there are there multiple communication channels to reach the vendor. When simply going online isn’t sufficient, is there a person you can easily reach for hands-on care and assistance?

  1. Does the vendor understand and value the experience of your candidate?

    The background check can be an uncertain experience for your job candidates. The best screening vendors treat candidates with care and respect and serve as a positive reflection of your employer brand.

  1. Does the vendor integrate with other HR systems?

    For example, can they integrate with your applicant tracking system? This can help streamline your hiring processes and reduce duplicate data entry, administration and time.


Hopefully the questions above will make the entire process of selecting a screening vendor a less intimidating one for your organization.

These questions can help you identify the best companies and select the one that will hopefully serve as your long-term screening partner.

To read more about choosing a background check vendor, please download a copy of our book Background Checks for Dummies.

Free eBook: Background Checks for Dummies
Background Checks For Dummies [eBook]
Background Checks For Dummies [eBook]

Your guide to help reduce hiring risk and improve your quality of hire.

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Kim Nelson

Kim Nelson leads a team of highly creative people that inspire her to find new and engaging ways to help HR professionals stay current on trends in human capital management. In her free time, she loves to travel and follow her palate, searching for the world’s best food and drink.

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