SHRM Diaries: Background Check Delay Story Makes for Bad Dinner Conversation

Nick Fishman

Background Check Delays

I think we can all agree that no one loves waiting for their employment background checks to be completed, especially when there are delays. It can throw a log jam into your hiring process, potentially delay your start dates and even spook your candidates. And nobody wants that to happen.

The natural tendency is to blame the background screening company, right? Surely, they’re too busy otherwise the work would be completed. That might be true with some providers, but for those of us that focus on delivering the most comprehensive and compliant background checks, these delays can be par for the course. In our case, volume has little to nothing to do with delays. For us, the two biggest contributors to delayed employee background checks is authenticating and confirming a criminal record and if a court mandates that a criminal record search can only be performed by one of their clerks.

Having said that, I wanted to share a story that one of our clients told us this past week at the 2014 SHRM Annual Conference. If you’re feeling the heat over delayed background checks, you should keep reading.

The Back Story

“ABC Company” (names have been changed . . . well for obvious reasons) became a client of ours back in March. I got an email from our client “John” after the first check was completed telling me how thrilled he was that the check took less than 24 hours. I should have rejoiced, right? Unfortunately, I’ve been in this business long enough to know that is highly abnormal for a comprehensive background check. So, I replied to the email that I was so happy that he was pleased, but warned that not every check would turn out that way.

Let’s Eat!

When I found out that John was down in Orlando for the conference, I asked if he’d be interested in joining me for dinner. He accepted my invitation and after catching up with some fun stories, I asked how the screening program was going. Was everything okay? He told me that it was, but also shared that his boss recently got pretty frustrated when it took 8 days for us to return a background check. After the panic subsided, I asked him to tell me what happened.

Does Anyone Know the Heimlich?

Turns out they had a candidate that they wanted to bring on pretty quickly. We started the background check and were notified early on that there were possible records that would need to be verified by the court. Ugh!!! We got the double whammy: possible records and only the court could verify. After a few days, we still hadn’t heard back and apparently John’s boss was getting antsy. He told John that he was going to run the search through their old provider (cue: Nick choking). Of course, we kept reaching out to the court trying to get answers.

It only took their former provider four days to let ABC Company know that the background check was clean and that there were no criminal records (I think I lost my appetite).

Well, imagine John’s surprise (and his boss’s) when we returned the check in eight days. Only there was a big difference. We found three felonies, all of which would have deemed the candidate unhireable. And as John told me at dinner, the question of whether we were the right provider for their organization was put to rest (phew, can I start eating again now?) You didn’t really think I was going to tell you a story that didn’t have a favorable ending, did you?

There’s a Lesson Here People

Here’s the lesson. Background check delays can and do happen. As an employer, you need to anticipate them and build them into your hiring process. Sure, you’ll always have companies tell you that they can do it faster and cheaper, but what do you think might have happened here if our client went with the faster option? Having said that, you also have to trust your provider. Unfortunately, there are background screening companies out there that are delayed because they are too busy or haven’t streamlined their process well enough. The best way to filter through what’s truly going on is to understand what your provider’s processes and procedures are. We’ve included a link to a helpful guide for how to effectively evaluate your background screening provider below.

Nick Fishman
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Nick Fishman

Nick Fishman is the co-founder of EmployeeScreenIQ, a leading, global employment background screening provider, and serves as the company’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer. He pioneered the creation of EmployeeScreen University, the #1 educational resource on employment background checks for human resources, security and risk management professionals. A recognized industry expert, Nick is a frequent author, presenter and contributor to the news media. Nick is also a licensed private investigator in the states of Ohio and Texas.
Nick Fishman
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  • Oh yes, those pesky delays! But your story is definitely reality. While sometimes there are no delays, when a roadblock occurs (that is totally out of our control), it can make for some tense conversations.

    In addition to waiting on court verification, I have also run into delays in verifying education and employments when it is still handled by HR. If that one person that can help me is out, I am stuck.

    Thanks for sharing this Nick!

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