How Checkr Assess Can Help You Convert More Candidates Through Your Funnel

May 26, 2021
Checkr Editor

Editor’s note: This blog was written by A.J. Remlinger, lead product manager and co-creator of Checkr Assess. 

Checkr is not in the background check business. Sure, we sell lots of background checks, and ours are the fastest and most accurate, and we’re the fastest growing, and we’re proud of all that. But a lot of other companies sell background checks, and they exist to do so. It’s not why we exist, though. Checkr is in the Starfish business. Now, hear me out:

A few decades ago, a young girl was walking along a beach upon which thousands of starfish had been washed up during a terrible storm. When she came to each starfish, she would pick it up, and throw it back into the ocean. People watched her with amusement.

She had been doing this for some time when a man approached her and said, “Little girl, why are you doing this? Look at this beach! You can’t save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference!”

The girl seemed crushed, suddenly deflated. But after a few moments, she bent down, picked up another starfish, and hurled it as far as she could into the ocean. Then she looked up at the man and replied,

“Well, I made a difference for that one!”

The old man looked at the girl inquisitively and thought about what she had done and said. Inspired, he joined the little girl in throwing starfish back into the sea. Soon others joined, and all the starfish were saved. (Adapted from “The Star Thrower” by Loren C. Eiseley)

If you’re familiar with Checkr and our mission as an organization, this should resonate, to say the least. Checkr exists to empower candidates that have been impacted by the criminal justice system (~⅓ of Americans, or 70 million adults, have a criminal record) with an opportunity to earn a wage, and we exist to arm our customers with data to make informed decisions when evaluating a candidate’s background by providing context and encouraging fair chance hiring. 

This is why we’re so excited that Checkr Assess has won Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas Award for AI and Data. Checkr Assess isn’t a background check, it’s a context and bias elimination assistant.

Understanding Checkr Assess and adjudication

Today, Checkr performs more than 20 million criminal background checks per year on behalf of our customers. Prior to the creation of Checkr Assess, the result for our customers’ adjudicators to review would either be Clear (nothing found), or Consider (something found). Reports with records must be adjudicated.

Adjudication, as it relates to background checks, is the process for evaluating a candidate’s eligibility for work, a loan, or a place to live. Companies will order background checks to evaluate candidates, and information about their criminal, motor vehicle, credit, et al. history will be returned. This information is sourced from over 3,000 counties in the US, and each county has varying terminology for what a record actually means, universally.

The lack of standardization in terminology, coupled with an unstructured framework for evaluating each record the exact same way, introduces human bias and an error prone process. It’s also very costly in overhead and slows down the time from a report completion to when candidates can begin earning. 

Checkr Assess seeks to ensure each record is evaluated the exact same way, based on what our customers’ executives have deemed an acceptable record, an unacceptable record, or a record that requires some deeper thinking and collaboration from their adjudication teams. Our framework utilizes multiple machine learning models to level the reporting field, and spans hundreds of standardized charge names, dispositions, and severities. Rather than adjudicators seeing Clear or Consider, candidates that have been assessed will be annotated as Eligible, Review, or Escalated to ensure proper, consistent outcomes. Coupled with an industry-best User Experience (UX), 99.97% of candidates have been adjudicated accurately.  

What has Checkr Assess achieved?

While the bias reduction and compliance improvements are big wins for customers, candidates, and Checkr’s mission for fair chance hiring, we want to ensure the commercial successes are understood, as we and most of our customers are ultimately for-profit enterprises. 

Since launching Beta in February of 2019, more than 13.5 million candidates have been assessed through Checkr Assess. Cohort-wide, customers perform Adverse Action (which formally ends a candidate’s eligibility with a company) on 20% fewer candidates

In 2020, Checkr unblocked over 1.5 million people impacted by the criminal justice system. This population, now evaluated without bias despite the presence of a criminal record on their background check, represents an economic impact opportunity of more than $60 billion. Further, operating costs for customers to manually review candidates have been reduced by up to 90%, and 96.5% of all candidates are determined to be Eligible by Checkr Assess. 

In closing, I’d like to reiterate the above: doing what is right for society and individuals does not need to be a tradeoff or compromise with business goals. Certain companies and products are able to align these initiatives and deliver something incredible to the free market. Checkr has done this, and we’re so thankful to Fast Company for listening to our story and recognizing an amazing cross-functional team with the World Changing Ideas Award.

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Special thanks to Rebecca Rabison, Daniel Gallagher, Adrienne Pajer, Joe Cabezas, Juan Munoz, Zach Gianos, Fernando De La Madrid, Andrew Sawyer, Mani Sambamurthy, Melanie Cernak, Agnes Liang, and Alex Popelard, as well as our countless partners in PMM, Data, CS, Legal, Ops, and Finance for lending us their talent and for their unwavering commitment to Checkr’s mission, customers, and candidates. 

Interested in learning more about Checkr Assess? Find more information here

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