Employment Testing: Background Checks, Assessments & More #SHRM19



Making a hiring decision is really hard. I don’t care if it’s your first time or your 1,000th time - evaluating a person for a job isn’t easy. 

I’ve hired 50+ people in my first few years of being in business. Our pre-employment process has evolved dramatically. At first, there was zero employment testing. No background checks. No assessments. Nothing more than one in-person interview with our team.

That changed quickly. And although our pre-employment process now includes the common necessities, we still periodically (and unfortunately) need to lean on the mantra of “slow to hire, fast to fire.” 

So how can your company get employment testing right? I spoke with several pre-employment companies focused on items ranging from background checks to assessments at the annual SHRM conference. Here’s what they had to offer companies looking to perfect the employment testing process.  

Time To Hire 

In employment screening, time to hire is critical. If a background screen takes too long to process, applicants may grow weary and seek employment elsewhere and employers can often be left with key positions open, leading to labor shortages. While some delays are unavoidable due to court processes, holidays, and other factors outside the control of both the employer and their screening provider, many delays can be minimized or eliminated completely through client/provider partnership and continuous process improvement. Reducing time to hire can often yield employers greater overall cost savings than simply reducing direct screening costs.

  •  Cynthia Woods, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, AccuSource

Mobile Friendly Candidate Experience 

The employment screening experience should be easy for a candidate to complete. Having a mobile-friendly applicant portal allows candidates to quickly initiate the screening process via their smartphone or tablet without having to print or scan any documents.

Rather than employing a cumbersome screening process or waiting too long for background check reports to be returned, a mobile-friendly candidate experience can enable a company to begin their new hire onboarding process while competitors are still waiting around for their background checks to be completed.

Quality Control & Compliance Checks 

There are some HR professionals that believe they can use the online, $30/month criminal database search for a hiring decision. In fact, the fine print will say you can’t use the results for employment decisions. There is no quality control to check that the database is updated, no system in place to verify the information is tied to the right candidate, and no measure of FCRA-compliance to protect the company. Identifying the most accurate and compliant results for a criminal history search is extremely complex.

There are also dangers of performing your own social media searches for hiring decisions. Recruiters risk compliance violations when making employment decisions knowing protected class information like age, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation, and more.

Accuracy and compliance are key. We never begin a background check looking to exclude anyone from a job. Accurate background checks get the best candidates that much closer to the right job.

  • Tammy Cohen, Founder and Chief Visionary Officer, InfoMart 

Attrition Costs 

Many HR professionals believe that they are doing “okay” when it comes to hiring and fail to calculate just how much employee turnover and lost-production costs their organization annually. Most HR professionals have never really calculated their attrition rates or cost of attrition, and have little information about how much turnover costs them. How do you know how much you’ll save if you have no idea how much turnover costs?

Pre-hire assessments can make a world of difference in a company’s bottom line. You can see how the savings adds up when calcuatlng the rate of employee turnover and average cost of per termed employee!

  • Megan Nau, Director of Business Development, FurstPerson

More of an art than a science

Background checks are more of an art than a science. It’s not CSI Miami where you pull up everything about a person in one fell swoop. There’s a lot of aspects to a criminal check. 

It’s a matter of identifying your needs, and then focusing the searches on the information that is going to produce the right results. Scrub the data and adjudicate in accordance to your criteria objectives. And of course, don’t lose compliance in the shuffle. 

Personality and aptitude test

Incorporate a personality and aptitude test along with the application process. Especially for entry level jobs. You want to put a personality and aptitude test up front in the evaluation process to help focus your time on the promising candidates, and weed out a lot of resume spammers. 

For harder to fill positions with fewer candidates, you want to put these personality and aptitude tests later on in the application process to reduce candidate dropoff. 

With that said, test candidates early. You want to get as much as information as you can to get a clearer picture of a candidate - especially around their aptitude and personality.

Advanced Technology 

Automate your screening process by connecting background checks to your web or mobile application through technologies like an API (application programming interface). With a few API calls, organizations with their own platforms can create candidates, place orders - without ever touching a third party system. 

Say that you’re Uber. When someone applies, that candidate can automatically be sent through an API call to place an order for a background check, and then the client system will be updated with the background check information. The background check starts immediately with the API call. Then, depending on how robust the background check, you’re looking at seconds, minutes, hours, or days to complete the background check. 

  • Byron Alvord, Solutions Consultant, Accurate

Interested in learning more about employment testing? Review SHRM’s vendor directory of pre-employment testing companies, or jump in the conversation on social media by following SHRM.



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