There’s a growing consensus among human resources professionals that hiring an employment screening company is a very wise investment. The services provided by a top tier screening firm can play a vital role in ensuring that an organization hires only honest, reliable and skilled employees.

But once the decision to utilize a background screening company has been made, the next logical question is: what qualifications are required by an employment screening firm in order for them to provide the skills and services needed to succeed?

In other words, how do you “screen the screeners?”

In addition to usual due diligence that a company would require when selecting a third party vendor, there are a number of industry-specific qualifications that human resources professionals look for when choosing who is qualified to perform their company’s background screening services. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), nearly 70 percent of employers conduct criminal background checks on all candidates, while 47 percent conduct credit checks. All background checks also have to fully comply with federal law, including the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

But when hiring an employment screening company, such as PeopleFacts, organizations have to decide which screening firm is best suited to meet their unique needs.

With that in mind, here are some of the most important questions worth considering when selecting an employment screening firm:

Does the company have the resources required to obtain all the background information you will require on a job applicant? A small screening firm may not have the capacity to complete a large number of background checks in a timely manner.
Does the employment screening firm fully understand—and have a history of complying with–the Fair Credit Reporting Act?
What is the screening company’s history? How long have they been in business, and—as with any third party vendor—what is their reputation within their industry?
Is the screening company’s pricing comparable and competitive to others within their industry?
How long will the screening company require in order to complete the requisite background checks it is tasked to perform?
Is the screening company accredited with the industry’s organization, the National Association of Professional Background Screeners?

When conducting a background check—or hiring a professional firm to do so—it’s critically important to also remember that there’s a large number of federal, state and often local laws that regulate how the background check is conducted. Failure to comply with any of these regulations can often result in very heavy fines; therefore, while background checks are a most useful tool in minimizing the potential future costs associated with hiring either a dishonest or unqualified candidate, they must be conducted strictly within the bounds of the governing employment laws of a company’s location.

As with any wise investment, an investment in hiring a background screening company should be done only after due diligence, and the gathering of all relevant information on both the applicant, and the company hired to screen him.