Controlling Applicant Satisfaction

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By Kevin Dunning, Director of Product Management, HireRight

“I like control.” There, I said it. Something my family, friends and colleagues have known for a long time. I want to be clear. It’s not a trait that I’ve been in denial of having. Instead, I’m more aware of its impact on me and others around me.

I would diagnose myself as having a mild, yet chronic case of control-ism. I take comfort in knowing that I’m not the only one on the planet who suffers from this, as I believe all people strive to have control in some aspect of their lives.

So what does control have to do with background screening? A lot!

History of Applicant Screening Experience
Historically, there were those who were in control during background screening versus those who were not. Applicants typically were not in control. The employer would conduct a background check and from the applicant’s perspective decisions would then be made to either hire or not hire. The applicant did not have much, if any, visibility into the process.

As companies began to use third party background screening companies to perform their background checks, the applicant gained more control. Third party screening companies are considered “consumer reporting agencies” under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”), and there are a number of consumer protections that are built into the FCRA when an employer obtains information from a CRA. For example, applicants have rights under the FCRA that include:

  • Receiving written disclosure from the employer that the employer will conduct a background check;
  • Providing their written consent to the employer conducting a background check
  • Obtaining a copy of their background report under certain circumstances;
  • Disputing the accuracy of information in their background report.

Despite these protections, however, the overall process from the applicant’s perspective still remained something of a black box, giving them the impression that they were not in control.

Driving Applicant Satisfaction
In the background industry today, there is much stronger alignment between employers, applicants, and background screening companies. Everyone wants the applicant to have a positive experience throughout the process.

For the last few years, I’ve taken on the challenge of controlling exactly what an applicant experiences as they go through the background screening process. I’ve driven process enhancements targeted at giving the applicant more control, including the ability for an applicant to interact with us on their terms (smart phone, mobile, text, chat, person), the ability to see a status of a background report and all pending activities, the ability to electronically sign documents, the ability to upload documents from any device, and many more. My hypothesis: An applicant who feels in control is an applicant who is satisfied.

Through these innovations, I’ve witnessed applicant satisfaction rates climb from 84% to 93%, meaning the dissatisfaction rate has declined by 56%. This is an incredible achievement in making applicants’ lives better while supporting the employment brands of our clients. We also now see that more than 90% of applicants report the background screening process is as good as, or better than, other major steps in the recruiting process.

Empowering the Applicant
We can do better, though. Our application research shows that a well prepared applicant is a highly satisfied applicant. A well prepared applicant knows the Who, What, When, and How about the background screening process:

The most basic form of control is that of being able to predict one’s future with a high degree of accuracy. Being prepared allows an applicant to do just that.

The numbers speak for themselves — applicants who are not prepared are 2 ½ times more likely to be dissatisfied by the screening process. This simple, yet critical step of preparing an applicant on what to expect from the background screening process is a strong driver of satisfaction. With approximately 38% of all applicants indicating they were not prepared, there is significant opportunity to positively impact applicant satisfaction.

So what does this mean to employers? Your background screening provider can do a lot to create a positive experience for applicants, but the most important aspect of satisfaction is expectation setting and preparation.

Do you have a formal and measurable process for preparing your applicants for their background screen? If not, you can greatly help your employment brand by this simple addition to your recruiting program.

The Importance of Applicant Experience in Talent Acquisition
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HireRight is a leading provider of on-demand employment background checks, drug and health screening, and electronic Form I-9 and E-Verify solutions that help employers automate, manage and control background screening and related programs.

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