In today’s competitive job market, sourcing, screening and onboarding talent is a real business challenge.  Every step in the process is critical and you need a partner that understands the balance between providing a great candidate experience and ensuring you are mitigating hiring risk.

If you are searching for a new background screening partner, there are many factors that need to be considered. The National Ethics Association offers a list of 20 questions to help you narrow your list of choices so you can select the most appropriate vendor for your company.

Here are a few key questions you must ask your current and prospective background screening provider:

  1. What specific services do you offer? A comprehensive background check includes employment and education verification along with multi-state and county criminal records, credit history, motor vehicle and license record checks. Make sure the company also verifies each candidate’s Social Security Number, which will also reveal aliases. Just be cautious about vendors who promote instant national background checks because there is no single database for all criminal records. Typically, vendors search back seven years but with some jobs, like those involving childcare, you may want to go back even further if concerned about identifying known sex offenders.
  2. Are you familiar with local, state and federal regulations? The company should be experts in local, state and federal statutes that impact the hiring process. For example, they must be well versed with the Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) rules and other anti-discrimination laws as well as the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
  3. How do you protect sensitive applicant information? Make sure the vendor has a security certificate for its online system and data encryption capabilities. Also ask to see its privacy and data-security policies that should spell out specific procedures for protecting candidate information.
  4. Are you a data provider or are you capable of being a business partner? While data providers deliver information, business partners understand the talent acquisition function and the important role played by background checks. They’re industry-savvy and can advise your organization on how to use and apply data to enhance your hiring practices. Ask vendors if they also belong to like the National Association of Professional Background Screeners. Those that completed the NAPBS’ accreditation program (Background Screening Agency Accreditation Program) deserve extra points.
  5. What are some key features of your systems? First off, is it compatible with your current ATS or HRIS system? Likewise, the platform should be easy to navigate and use when managing or updating documents. Also check out its ability to customize reports and its effectiveness and efficiency at taking orders and reporting results. Does it also support a candidate portal that reflects your brand and offers multimedia functions like videos, photos and other images, links, social media and documents?


Since “anyone with a computer and Internet connection can hang out a background-check shingle,” states the National Ethics Association, conduct due diligence before hiring any vendor. Protect yourself. Protect your clients. Hire a reputable firm that can help both of you make the right hires first time around.