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8 Questions Every Background Screening Company Should Be Able to Answer

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As one of the leading data providers to background screening companies across the United States, we get to see and hear first hand the hot issues that drive the industry. This is a competitive industry, no doubt about it, and every Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA) must put their best foot forward. 

In this article, we’re covering the eight questions that you will get from employers who are considering your services. You may be working with them already, or they may be in the process of replacing their current screening provider with a new one. Either way, you need to have solid  answers for these eight questions.

1. How long does it take?

Employers care about the price of their background checks, but that’s not all. Another important goal every employer has is to ensure that their background checks are completed quickly. Nowadays, the hiring process is longer than ever, with vacancies remaining unfilled for months. By the end of the process, when your services are required, the employer and the applicant are ready to close out the process, exit hiring mode and get down to business. 

Employers don’t want to have a background check slow this process down. You need to be able to clearly answer what your turnaround times are for different types of checks. Compare them to industry benchmarks and make sure that you can justify reasons your response times may appear different.

Of course, if you’re not beating industry standards, it may be time to invest in automated background checks

2. What are your capabilities?

Many employers don’t want a one-size-fits-all background screening solution. For example, a home healthcare company would likely use a different check for their staff accountant than they would for one of their traveling nurses. Or they may have employees in some states that require drug screening, and some in other states where they don’t.

You should have a broad scope of services that ensures you can meet all the employer’s needs. Comprehensive enough but not so complex to administer that working with you is like solving a Rubic’s cube. This may require you to invest in both your capabilities and how your capabilities are organized. Or, you may need to partner with a data provider that has a broader range of research capabilities and a solid delivery platform.

3. What differentiates you?

It won’t come as breaking news to you that the background screening industry has been struggling with commoditization. That’s a fancy term that means what you already know… do more, charge less. The industry faces significant price competition. Many background screening providers find their margins getting squeezed as they continue to lower their prices to win business. 

Not every provider has gotten caught in this race to the bottom: many have responded by creating clear differentiation, specialization and value-added service options. Want inspiration? Here are some recent examples over the last few years: 

  • Checkr invested significantly in automation capabilities and focused on the gig economy. 
  • IntelliCorp catered to organizations that rely heavily on volunteer workers. 
  • Corporate Screening focuses on the healthcare industry.  
  • Sterling has verticalized their entire business. 

What is your secret sauce? Is it clear how you are different and how your difference creates value for your prospects? Refine it and highlight it.

4. How will you help us with compliance?

For most employers, compliance is a central concern. How do you reassure them? There are a lot of ways to do so:

  • Accreditation. If you have been certified by PBSA’s Background Screening Credentialing Council (BSCC), this will go a long way.
  • Education. Make educating your clients a priority. By educating your clients on compliance, you ensure that they see you as a thought leader on the subject.
  • Expertise. You likely have a person or two in your organization that has deep expertise or knowledge in compliance. Highlight them, tell their story, and even have them write the occasional article or email for your sales and marketing teams.

5. Do you integrate into our ATS?

Getting up and running with a new background screening provider often requires an integration with an employer’s Applicant Tracking System (ATS.) On this question, employers may be anxious. Integration projects can go badly, quickly. When they do, they take significantly more time and money to complete than initially anticipated. 

It’s your job to ensure that you can quickly and painlessly integrate with the top 20 or so systems and have a straightforward process in place that sets expectations and requirements. 

6. Are you able to conduct international checks?

As we continue our progress into the remote work era, a looming issue for CRAs is how many employees will complete their work from other countries. When employees aren’t shackled to offices, many will use remote work as an opportunity for international adventure. 

That means it is critical for CRAs to have a well-defined international background check offering and success metrics to put prospects at ease.  Don’t wait, this can serve as a key differentiator in the coming years and it’s not something you do well by just “adding water”. 

7. Have you worked with companies that look like mine?

This question is all about risk management. Employers want to understand that you know their industry, their compliance concerns, and that you’re able to meet quick turnaround times without sacrificing quality. The problem is this: they often use the appearance that you don’t understand their business as a reason to decline working with you. They may not express this sentiment  during the sales process, but they are always thinking about it. Be proactive, make sure that your website and sales materials reflect your industry specialties. 

8. What happens when things don’t go well?

Here’s the thing. If you are talking to an employer that already has a provider, the reason you’re having this conversation with them is probably because they have had a painful experience with their existing provider. 

Things aren’t always going to go well. You will find issues with candidates, sometimes after the candidate has already been hired. There will be delays. There will be mistakes. Employers will reach out to your team looking for information or assistance with an issue. Perfection is an unrealistic expectation and employers know this. The question is, what kind of partner are you when things don’t go perfectly? This isn’t the time or place to air dirty laundry, but you can use this topic to underscore how your people, your technology, process and service all work together to create consistently great results even in less than optimum conditions.

Make sure that your issue-handling is in tip-top shape, and that you can easily explain it.

Do you have answers to all of these? Then you have a leg up.

Many providers won’t have great answers to these questions, and that is where you can differentiate yourself. But be brutally honest with yourself, don’t say that you have top-notch issue-resolution skills when you actually don’t. Instead, work to improve your people, process and technology so that you do. These questions can serve as growth areas as you level up your ability to serve the market.

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