Making background checks transparent for job candidates

When talent acquisition teams shop around for a background checking or pre-employment screening service, one of the key concerns is visibility. Employers want to see the status of their candidates’ checks with everything laid out easily on a dashboard. The best solutions offer a comprehensive birds-eye view along with the ability to drill down to individual candidates.

But what about providing visibility for the candidates themselves?

Background checks and negative candidate experiences

Consider the candidate’s engagement level as they progress through the hiring process. Their excitement and interest have been building steadily as they’ve completed each step – the application, the skills assessment, then the job interview. Their engagement reaches a peak when they’re informed they’ve got the job pending one or two background checks.

Then … nothing. Communication from the employer either drops off entirely for several days or the candidate is simply asked to wait for an indeterminate period while the background checks take place. The candidate is left feeling out of the loop, disengaged and a little bit ghosted.

Why is this a problem? Poor communication is a major factor in negative candidate experiences. According to research from Lever, 80% of job seekers say they would not reapply to a company that didn’t notify them of their current status in the application process.

A poor candidate experience will negatively impact your recruiter brand. 72% of jobseekers report sharing their experience on employer review sites such as and by word-of-mouth. This will ultimately lead to a shrinking pool of top-quality candidates.

Negative experiences can even impact top-line growth. Although this effect is notoriously difficult to measure, Virgin Media estimated that poor hiring practices were costing the company the equivalent of AU$7.5 million annually in cancelled subscriptions.

Improving the candidate experience through greater transparency

Background checking processes can seem opaque and even a little bit secretive, but it doesn’t need to be this way.

Giving the candidate visibility into what is happening at the background checking stage will build trust, give them a sense of control and insight into which checks are being carried out and (importantly) who is viewing their data. It will also help the candidates understand why delays happen rather than being left in the dark.

Here are some ways to improve transparency for candidates at the background checking stage.

Explain the process

As a talent acquisition professional, you may be very familiar with what a background check involves, but too many candidates (particularly early-career candidates) it can seem like a mystery. Email the candidate to explain the process, the steps involved, how long they are likely to take, why these checks have been requested, what they need to provide and how their data will be protected.

Give the candidates access to information about their status

Candidates shouldn’t have to call or email you to find out the status of their background check. This adds to the workload of talent acquisition teams, particularly in high-volume hiring situations. Invest in a system where candidates can easily log on to a secure, easy-to-use self-service portal to find out their status for themselves. This information can be “fetched” (the candidate has to log on to access it), or “pushed” to their phones via SMS or app-based notifications.

Break down the background checking process into steps

Recruiters have a habit (when talking to candidates) of lumping multi-part background checking activities into a single entity, adding to the opacity of this part of the hiring process. Break the process down into its different components – the police check, qualifications check, reference checks and so on – and consider providing an estimated time for each step. With the right automation workflows, candidates can log on to see what’s done, what’s currently in progress and anything that requires further action.

Provide feedback

If a candidate fails a background check, be sure to let them know exactly why. Even if it means they won’t get this particular job, it will help them in their future job search or enable them to reapply with your organisation for a different opportunity.

CVCheck is a leading provider of background screening services in Australia and New Zealand, conducting over 300,000 checks every year for businesses, government organisations, and individuals. To learn more about our team and business, sign up to our blog today.

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