From the outside looking in, the standard hiring process appears pretty simple and straightforward:

  1. Post a job opening
  2. Collect applications
  3. Schedule and carry out interviews
  4. Compare the results
  5. Make an offer

But any HR professional who’s handled even one new hire process will tell you there are a lot more moving parts that need to be coordinated, and an almost infinite number of opportunities for errors, slowdowns, and other complications.

When a company makes the decision to fill a role by hiring new talent, it means there’s already a need in a specific team or department, or there will be in short order. So, anything that bogs down the hiring process is going to potentially have a detrimental snowball effect on the success of the team, department, or even the entire company.

For that reason, HR departments are constantly on the lookout for new technology and best practices designed to streamline their hiring process without sacrificing the quality of applicants they receive or their ability to choose the best person for the job.

While a lot of great content has already been published elsewhere looking at solving this big picture problem, we’ve discovered that one of the most important elements in the hiring process — and one that often presents challenges that slow the process down — is too often neglected.

That’s why we’re presenting the following four tips for streamlining the background screening process:

Gather needed background information up front

While every standard job application includes basic information regarding the applicant’s identification and background, and other insight can be gleaned from their resume, there are a few questions that can easily be added to a standard application to make the background screening process much faster and easier.

For example, along with requesting the applicant’s full name, make a point to request any other names they’ve used in the past, including maiden names and/or aliases. Granted, if an applicant has used an alias for criminal reasons, they’re unlikely to reveal that on their application. But there are a number of perfectly legal reasons why someone may have more than one name under which legal and financial records can be filed.

Another example is requesting the applicant to list all the different states and/or counties they’ve lived and worked in, as opposed to just their current and previous address.

Knowing all these different names and locations up front will make the background screening process much smoother and more thorough.

Tailor your application to the specific role you’re filling

Most companies use a standard job application form for every position, and then start to drill down into role-specific information at the interview stage. But that means you’re receiving a large number of applications and resumes from applicants that clearly don’t have the appropriate knowledge, skills, or experience, and your time is being wasted reviewing these just to narrow down who you’re going to call in for interviews.

This same problem can create issues during the background screening phase because part of that process involves verifying the applicant’s educational history, job history, and the validity of any licenses or certifications that have a bearing on their qualifications for the role. If background screening begins prior to (or in conjunction with) the interview process, a lot of time and money can be wasted screening the background of applicants who could have already been ruled out.

Provide all consent forms up front with the application

FCRA rules require the disclosure form and a copy of the FCRA Rights Summary be provided to applicants, and it must be signed before you can pursue background checks. While the FCRA’s “clear and conspicuous” designation prevents you from combining disclosure language into the application, from a time perspective, it only makes sense to provide every applicant with all the necessary forms up front so they can sign them and turn them in along with their application.

While your overall hiring process will need to dictate at what point the background screening process begins, there’s bound to be some overlap. Having the forms filled out ahead of time allows for the background checks to start as soon as possible and in compliance with FCRA regulations, which will help increase the efficiency of your hiring process.

Get professional help

This final tip can save busy HR professionals hours of labor on each applicant while simultaneously ensuring more thorough and valuable results from the screening process.

Outsource the entire background screening process to a professional firm that specializes in handling it. Partner with this company to develop a customized package of screening services designed to quickly, efficiently, but thoroughly fulfill all legally required aspects of the background check as well as any additional searches that will help you make the best possible hiring decision.

By outsourcing this important process, HR professionals can free up more of their time for in-depth interviews and non-hiring related work that also needs to get done, without sacrificing the quality of the background screening.