How to Communicate with Candidates During the Background Screening Process

How to Communicate with Candidates During the Background Screening Process

By the time you’re running a pre-employment background check, you’ve probably decided that you want to hire your candidate. (If not, we recommend learning the best time to conduct pre-employment background checks). For many organizations, all that stands between a conditional job offer becoming an official job offer is a background check.

While the background check may be an easy and routine part of the hiring process for you, it’s not for your candidate. In fact, they may know nothing about the process — and that can cause headaches for everyone.

The good news? Proactive communication about the background screening process can go a long way with your candidates. Here’s why you should communicate with your candidates and what to tell them.

Why You Should Talk to Your Candidates About the Background Screening Process

Being proactive and transparent about the background screening process is beneficial for both you and your candidates.

Here’s why.

You’ll improve Your Candidates’ Experiences
Your candidate filled out an application, submitted their resume and nailed their interview (maybe even multiple times). At this point in the process, many will have gotten a conditional job offer, proving that all of their time and effort was worth it.

Make no mistake, though: they’re anxious to make this a done deal.

Even if your candidate has a perfectly clean background, the wait between submitting a background check and learning the results can feel like a lifetime — even if it’s really only a day or two.

Put yourself in their shoes and think about all the reasons this wait could be anxiety-inducing to your candidate. They may have been down on their luck and desperately need this job. Perhaps they need to give two weeks’ notice to their current employer the moment they get your official job offer and are anxiously waiting to find out when they can do it. Maybe they have another job offer on the table, and they need to make a decision — fast (did you know that 60% of candidates will continue talking to other employers while they wait for background screening results?).

Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for a candidate to submit a background check and hear nothing from their prospective employer about what happens next. So, what else can they do except sit, obsessively refresh their email looking for a sign that they passed their background check, think about everything that could have gone wrong and wait?

No one wants to be stuck waiting, especially when the stakes are so high. Even if they end up getting the job, they won’t look back fondly on their experience.

If your candidate has had an otherwise positive hiring experience with your organization, this may put a small damper on their overall experience. If they’ve had a neutral or negative experience, this could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. It could even make them lose confidence in your organization, potentially causing them to decide they don’t want to work there.

Thankfully, being transparent about the process is a simple way to calm nerves and improve your candidate’s experience with your organization.

Why does this matter?

60% of job hunters say they’ve had a bad candidate experience. What’s more, 41% who’ve had a negative experience say they’ll no longer support that company — whether it’s by no longer purchasing their products or ending their relationship with the organization.

This can have a real impact on your business.

Take, for example, a study that found Virgin Media lost £4.4 million (over $5.3 million) in 2014 because of negative candidate experiences. Over 7,500 job candidates — who were also customers when they interviewed for a job — cancelled their subscription because of the bad taste the hiring experience left in their mouth.

While your organization may not be as large as Virgin Media, it’s easy to see how a poor candidate experience can be detrimental to your organization. Luckily, proactive communication is an easy way to help reduce the number of unhappy candidates.

You’ll Spend Less Time Answering Questions from Candidates
It’s easy to take your knowledge of the background screening process for granted when it’s a part of your normal hiring process. Unfortunately, that means it’s easy to forget that your candidates probably know nothing about how the process works.

Try to think about the things that are obvious to you, but are probably unknown to your candidate, like:

Your candidates are nervous, and they don’t know what you know about the background screening process. So, what will many of them do?

They’ll reach out to you to learn about the process.

Don’t get us wrong: providing a point of contact that can offer helpful, speedy answers to questions that arise during the hiring process is a great way to offer a positive candidate experience.

However, you can save time for both you and your candidates by answering their questions before they even have to ask. Not only will this reduce your workload, but it’ll give your candidates confidence in the process and how your organization’s HR team communicates in general. The hiring process can offer a glimpse into what their experience will be like with HR once they join the organization, so being proactive and transparent early on can set a positive tone of things to come.

What to Tell Your Candidates About the Background Screening Process
We recommend sharing the following information in writing, either before they submit their information for the background check or immediately after they submit their information.

Here’s what you should include:

All of this information can be shared in a short email to your candidates, so you don’t need to worry about spending a great deal of time crafting this message. It’s a small task that can yield positive results for both you and your candidate.

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