#SHRM17 Report- Technology and Background Checks: An Interview with First Advantage


This year at #SHRM17 I was focusing more on future views and technology such at Artificial Intelligence (AI) and what companies were doing to incorporate these advances in technology. Last year at #SHRM16 I interviewed Michael Pilnick of First Advantage. In that interview I had asked Pilnick what he saw as the challenges his industry and his company saw over the next five year. He said he saw three challenges. The first challenge was more regulation and compliance. Secondly, changes in technology that will increase the ease of use, especially through mobile, and decrease the price. Thirdly was the ability to use the big data they are collecting and turn it into a predictive tool. They do 70 to 100 million checks per year. That is a tremendous amount of human capital data.


This year I revisited  Pilnick to follow up on last year’s conversation to see what had changed. We included Bret Jardine, Executive Vice President  and General Counsel for First Advantage. I asked them if what they were doing to use AI and big data in the world of background checks. They answered that client analytics were critical to their success. Additionally the customer experience was important. To that end they have developed a mobile app that allows the customer to interact with their candidates on the go. Their mobile app makes it easy to request information from a candidate which enhances the candidate experience with their potential new employer. It also allows the candidate to see reports after they are done making the company much more compliant with the Fair Credit Reporting Act. This mobile experience is certainly not like anything I have seen in my past.


I asked them how they are using big data to help predict good candidates. Jardine said that while they collect a tremendous amount of data there are some challenges with using it to predict the success of candidates back background data. The EEOC and many states require individual assessments of an applicant’s acceptability for a position. Big data cannot parse that information out and give a definitive answer.

One of the challenges of using technology in background checks is that the sources of the data are not always the most technologically adept. Courthouses and police departments in many jurisdictions still use paper based systems, so regardless of how modern the technology is there is a roadblock at the source. First Advantage, however, is trying to use technology to speed the process, stay in front of the competition, and improve the users’ experience.

Naturally there will always be challenges of litigation. With identity theft such an issue rejecting candidates based on “bad” data will always be a challenge for companies. First Advantage is trying hard to eliminate that issue as much as possible.

I appreciate both Michael Pilnick and Bret Jardine taking time away from their busy schedule at the expo to speak with me. First Advantage can be found here.


Originally posted on Omega HR Solutions blog.



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