What Stage of the Hiring Process includes the Background Check?

2 min read
Fri, Apr 14, 2023

What Stage of the Hiring Process includes the Background Check

It's no secret that the hiring process includes multiple stages of getting to know the candidate. Hiring managers are also acutely aware of the fair chance and "ban the box" hiring legislation that's sweeping the country. Between compliance requirements, minimizing delays, and reducing the costs associated with hiring, is there a better time to run pre-employment screenings? 

At what stage of the hiring process should HR professionals run a pre-employment background check?

Why the Timing of the Background Check Matters

Despite technological advances, the hiring process now takes longer than ever, according to the Society of Human Resource Management. HR professionals should stay in contact with job seekers during the process lest the candidates move on to other opportunities. The timing of the background check will also make a difference in increased non-compliance, cost, and turnaround time on results.

If job offers are made before running employment background checks, and the screening reveals negative results, the candidates must be notified via adverse action procedures to meet FCRA compliance. The candidates must be aware that the job offers depend on the results of background checks and have provided consent and authorization to be screened. Withdrawing job offers based on background check results must be carefully considered, or it could be viewed as hiring bias and increase the risk of litigation for the employer.

If jobs are offered after background checks, hiring managers must ensure accurate data so the turnaround time is more dependable. Waiting to screen candidates after they're interviewed and before the job offer also reduces the number of candidates that need to be screened, therefore reducing the cost of overall screening during the hiring process.

Sample Background Check Policy Download the Template 

When Do Employers Screen Job Candidates?

With nearly two decades of experience running employment background checks, we've seen many differences in the timing of screening during the hiring process. Overall, we suggest a background screening policy to help determine when the checks are run and what would lead to adverse action. This screening policy will help ensure a consistent process and reduce the risk of non-compliance. 

Here are some suggestions for including background check procedures in the hiring process:

  • When a job seeker submits a resume, the employer can request they fill out an application and a separate document requesting permission to run a background check. The separate document must offer clear language explaining what to expect and that the job offer may depend on background check results.
  • If there is more than one interview during the hiring process, hiring managers may wish to run basic criminal background checks before inviting applicants to the next round of interviews. This action can reduce the candidate pool, and more in-depth screening can occur later. 
  • When hiring managers only conduct one interview, they may wish to inform a job candidate that the job offer is contingent on the results of a background check. The applicant must also give consent via a clear document that is separate from the job application.

Overall, the correct stage of the hiring process truly depends on the hiring managers and the background screening policies already set in place. A consistent, compliant process is necessary to minimize the risk of litigation and hiring biased claims. Applicant consent and adverse action procedures are also necessary to secure the perfect candidate for the job.

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