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Background Check Evolution: From Hiring Requirement to Hiring Strategy (Part 1)

New study reveals eye-opening shifts in employer views on screening standards (Part 1 of 2)

A proactive strategy. An investment. Maybe even a competitive edge. That’s how companies today are viewing employment screening, instead of merely thinking of it as a required human resource (HR) expenditure or an added step in the hiring process. More specifically, a recent Aptitude Research 2016 Hire, Engage and Retain study reveals that companies that invest in background screening are three times more likely to track quality of hire, and they’re also improving performance in key areas of talent acquisition. No longer a task to check off in the hiring process, background screening is being strategically used by more employers to improve the quality of hires while also creating a better candidate experience.

Here we share the fresh employer insights that are fueling these shifts in attitudes, based on feedback from the recent Aptitude Research study.

Talent acquisition is no longer focused on “quick wins”
Without question, hiring has become more complicated in recent decades. Factors such as a highly-connected global talent pool, changing workforce demographics and preferences (think: exiting baby boomers, rising millennials), the prominence of social media, integrated online and mobile technologies and the maze of evolving compliance guidelines and requirements are holding recruiters and HR teams to a higher standard than ever before. What’s more, today’s hiring practices are increasingly expected to align with corporate objectives and candidate expectations.
According to finding from the Aptitude Research study, the “quick win” mentality of simply filling an empty position is no longer the goal; instead, hiring professionals are focused on a candidate’s hiring experience and long-term success within the organization. It’s a big change from a decade ago when the emphasis was on metric-based measurements such as time-to-fill and cost-per-hire.

Specifically, the talent acquisition priorities revealed in the study include:

  • 73% Creating a consistent candidate experience
  • 65% Using pre-hire assessments
  • 62% Increasing diversity efforts
  • 56% Gathering feedback from candidates

Screening investment is higher, as companies seek quality
Interestingly, 82 percent of participants in the Aptitude Research study reported background screening as their greatest area of investment in talent acquisition, ahead of pre-hire assessments (79 percent) and recruitment marketing systems (76 percent). As more organizations graduate from background screening basics, they’re starting to critically evaluate their screening investment and look for qualified, experienced providers to help them improve their quality of hires and the candidate experience. In fact, the study revealed that one in four organizations are planning to replace their screening provider in the next 12 months.

Strategy is critical to achieving quality
As mentioned earlier, companies that invest in background screening are three times more likely to track quality of hire. By better understanding the quality of their hires, they can create a more meaningful background screening strategy. Screening providers can also help in strategy development, as they can offer recommendations for establishing screening consistency, increasing result accuracy and improving hiring compliance.

In terms of creating a quality hiring experience, the Aptitude Research study showed that companies are twice as likely to have improved the candidate experience by investing in background screening. Apart from saving the organization time and money by eliminating unqualified candidates earlier in the hiring process, it can also save those same candidates the stress of getting too far into the hiring process before being rejected. For most people, if you don’t have a chance at the job, it’s better to know sooner, before you spend the time and effort interviewing.

Across other key areas of talent acquisition, the study shows companies who use background screening, versus those who do not, report higher levels of positive experiences.


As hiring professionals shift their attention from using background screening to quickly fill empty positions and fulfill metrics-based measurements, they’re now finding ways to use it more strategically to improve the quality of hire and the candidate experience. This is leading more companies to view background screening more critically as an investment instead of an expense, as they look for the right partner to help them achieve their goals. In part two of this series, we’ll share what employers participating in the Aptitude Research study report as the surprising benefits of strategic background screening—think: retention, diversity, collaboration and more—and we’ll offer key recommendations for moving forward with a more purposeful background screening solution.

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