Maximizing the Value of Your Relationship with Your Screening Provider


From our position as a leader in the global employment screening industry, we see a wide range of background check programs. Through our diverse client base, we are positioned to observe how each company strives to meet its goals. While different clients have different objectives, there is one set of principles almost everyone comes together on. Get the most accurate information. Get it as fast as possible. Make the best decision for your organization.

But disparities do exist. It’s not where you might think though. The strongest differences are not among each company but within each company: security and loss prevention, human resources, recruiters, hiring managers. All want to serve their company well. All have good intentions. But inherently, they have different ideas on how to accomplish that. And sometimes, they conflict.

This article will illustrate how organizations can create, account for, and accommodate a diverse set of needs within their own departments. It will also address ways to fold your screening partner into the mix. For the purposes of discussion, let’s assume the following:

  • Security and loss prevention professionals want to minimize the risk to the organization.
  • Recruiters want to fill open positions and serve their internal customer; the hiring manager.
  • Hiring managers want to fill a position with their preferred candidate so they can fulfill their responsibilities.
  • All want to complete the process as quickly and accurately as possible.
  • All believe their individual objective is the most important.

Now, all the above are certainly valid aims. And none are short sighted or compromise the integrity of the organization. However, these objectives can bump against each other at times. The resulting conflict can create a negative impact within an organization. The following examples are not unique to our clients:

  • A hiring manager’s need to hire quickly leads to a less comprehensive background check than the risk manager would like.
  • A hiring manager’s desire to conduct more reference interviews after the background check leads the recruiter to fear a qualified candidate will accept a competitor’s offer due to the delay.
  • A risk manager’s worry about a candidate’s background could lead to a hiring manager not meeting production goals.
  • A hiring manager’s need to hit production goals could create a potential danger a risk manager is not comfortable taking.
  • A hiring manager likes a candidate’s background check, but the recruiter just talked to another candidate who might be a better fit.
  • A recruiter wants an employee to start working before the background check is finished to lock up that “talent,” but a risk manager disagrees.

Our role is not to decide which opinion is right and which is wrong. It is to help clients establish criteria, discuss scenarios, and provide feedback throughout. Therefore, the suggestions below invariably present more questions than answers, but can be used to create solutions that work to suit your individual needs.

Know How It Ends Before It Starts

When push comes to shove, which department “wins?” If one department’s objection trumps all others, fine. If it is a collaborative effort or if it depends on the situation, that’s fine too. But discuss ahead of time how the process plays out when there is conflict. Role play scenarios where the hiring manager, recruiter, and risk manager differ. What happens next? Follow the dialogue to the end.

Tell Your Partner “Who Wins”

Your screening partner is aware of your organizational structure but by no means is as well versed as you. A good partner will attempt to proactively address issues and obtain information by anticipating your questions and needs.

Naturally, feedback you’ve given on one candidate a few weeks ago can drive the actions they take today. In your eyes, is that good or bad? This process could take an extra day or two. Do you appreciate the effort, or is each candidate viewed in its own light? Are they making it worse?

By sharing your process, they can have much of the legwork done by the time you and your teams sit down to discuss. They’ll know when to push forward, and when to stay out of your way.

Who Might Pick Up the Phone?

Clients designate a few people to work directly with their screening partner, however many people may be involved in the process on your end. Let your partner know who the “players” are ahead of time. For security purposes, we restrict information to authorized users. If someone wants access, we authenticate them through you. Reduce delays by letting us know who your VP of Loss Prevention is before he or she calls.

Who Is In Charge?

Within your organization, the chain of command may be clear. To your screening partner, it may be less apparent. When the recruiter and the risk manager give opposing instructions to your screening partner, who should they listen to? Who, in the end, speaks for your company?

Is Your Screening Program Built to Handle a “Turf War?”

This builds on the last point and is found within organizations that use a collaborative or “it depends on the situation” model. Does your screening partner know to be on the lookout for rogue behavior from others within your organization? Do you need them to be? How will they interpret the issue at hand if it arises again in 2 months? Will they act differently because they’re not sure who to listen to?

Again, this doesn’t mean the collaborative decision making process is wrong. But putting your screening program in the middle of an interoffice crossfire can lead to delays and misunderstandings.

Step Back and Watch

Is the program running as expected? Are competing interests aligned to ensure consistency, yet flexibility if necessary? Is there an unintended negative consequence as a result of your decision making process? For example, a process that is too collaborative could backfire. Do candidates wind up moving on to other opportunities because it takes too long to make a decision?

Don’t Be Afraid to Change Your Mind

Sit down once a year with your organization. Then sit down with your screening partner to amend the plan if needed. Times change. Opinions change. There’s no harm in reviewing everything to make sure what the preferred option in 2007 is still the preferred option in 2009.

The environment we create for our clients is extremely important to us. We try to make the process of doing background checks as easy as possible. Then, we direct our efforts toward creating comprehensive solutions, guiding clients through results, and offering world class service. Everything leads toward enabling clients to make the best decision for their organization. These tips are steps along that path. Create structure ahead of time so when there is a difference of opinion, energy goes toward finding the best solution, not figuring out where to start.

Kevin Bachman is Vice President of Quality Service for Cleveland-based EmployeeScreen IQ, a best practices provider of pre-employment screening services throughout the U.S. and worldwide. Kevin can be reached at (800) 235-3954 ext. 450 or by email at