Measure These 7 Metrics to Get More From Your Background Check Program

Karen Axelton
July 31, 2023
6 min read

Tracking these seven metrics and applying what you learn can help you streamline your background check process, improve time-to-hire, reduce costs, and enhance your business’s competitive edge.

The competition for candidates is fierce. Making an offer and hiring candidates before they take another job can be the edge you need to stay competitive. But even small slowdowns during the hiring process can result in candidates dropping out of the funnel. Uncovering hiring bottlenecks and their causes can help you fine-tune your recruiting and hiring process, even with a lean team.

One phase of hiring that’s ripe for review: the background check process.

A poor candidate experience, incomplete forms, missing consents, or high dispute rates can all slow down background screenings, impacting candidate conversion and time-to-hire. Tracking key metrics in your background check process can reveal ways to increase efficiency, reduce costs, and improve time-to-hire.

We’ve identified seven key metrics to measure to get more from your background check program so you can hire faster. Here’s a closer look at each, including what you should track, how to measure it, and why these metrics are so important.

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Metric 1: Turnaround time

Turnaround time refers to the total time it takes to process the background check, beginning when you send the invitation to the candidate and ending when you receive results to review. Understanding average turnaround times can help you set expectations for both hiring managers and candidates alike. Transparency into how long the screening process takes goes a long way toward keeping candidates happy and in your hiring pipeline.

Track turnaround times by:

  • Background check package
  • Type of search (e.g., national criminal check, education verification, employment verification, etc.)

Measuring the turnaround times for all of the different background checks you use, in all of your locations or departments, helps you further fine-tune your screening program and adjust time-to-hire goals. Moreover, with increased insight for each type of search, you can see where bottlenecks may be occurring and work with your background check provider to address the issue. Excessive delays might also be a sign that it’s time to look for a provider that can deliver faster results.

Metric 2: Time-to-complete

Time-to-complete measures the time between when your team initiates the background check to when the candidate’s consent is received. To understand and evaluate how time-to-complete varies, measure this metric by:

  • Position
  • Background check package
  • Location

You can examine time-to-complete data to pinpoint where problems are occurring and determine solutions. For instance, if invitation emails are sitting unopened, text messaging can remind candidates of actions they need to take. A screening provider that offers easy-to-complete consent and authorization forms and automated reminders can help reduce time-to-complete, and integrating with your ATS or HRIS system can also help by automatically syncing candidate information to the background screening platform.

Metric 3: Number of background checks

This metric might seem obvious, but if you dig into the details, you might be surprised by what you learn. Understanding the number of background checks by type, and tracking details like consents received, clear results, results with hits, and disputes, can provide insights into areas for concern – or improvement. With this in mind, dig deeper into these factors:

  • Number of checks by location, department, and user: Are different locations with similar open roles running a similar number of background checks? If not, this might mean that one location is having a more difficult time finding qualified hires, or that it’s not screening candidates consistently.
  • Percentage of checks canceled or expired: Too many canceled or expired screenings can signal problems with candidate communication. How quickly did candidates receive notification to fill out forms or provide consent? Were instructions simple and candidate support readily available?
  • Percentage of clear checks vs. percentage with hits: Monitor hits by type of record—for example, felony, misdemeanor, and so on. If your checks disqualify more candidates than you’d like, you may need to change your recruiting channels; review your company’s adjudication guidelines; or reevaluate the types of searches you’re running to ensure they’re aligned with the role and you aren’t over-screening.

Overscreening with unnecessary checks costs your business time and money. (Keep in mind, screening packages will vary by industry and position type.) By analyzing this information, you can arrive at an ideal number of background check searches based on your industry, locations, and roles. Identifying the right background check searches for each position will help speed time-to-hire.

Metric 4: Cost per check

Monitoring your screening costs is critical to understanding and forecasting cost-per-hire, justifying screening spending, and budgeting more effectively. It can also help pinpoint areas where you can reduce spending.

The more data you can gather regarding background check costs, the better. Track costs by:

  • Type of search
  • Role
  • Location
  • Department
  • User

Be sure to break out third-party pass-through fees and government surcharges. Breaking out costs in this way helps you identify locations, departments, and users that are spending more than average on screenings so you can investigate why and make changes to reduce costs.

For example, if some of your locations have higher-than-average screening costs, it might be because they hire for more roles that require education and employment verifications or MVR reports. But you might also discover that they’re performing unnecessary screenings and need to refine their screening packages. It could even be that locations with lower costs are skipping important background screenings altogether, potentially putting your organization at risk when you should be screening consistently across the company.

Ready to dig deeper?

Guide: 5 Steps to Getting Better ROI From Your Background Screening Program

Metric 5: Adjudication results

Monitor the percentage of adjudication results in each of these categories: “hire,” “ineligible for hire,” and “requires review.” Too many ineligible candidates could mean you need new recruiting channels or better job descriptions.

If the percentage of results needing further review seems excessive, or a certain result regularly needs adjudication, consider modifying your adjudication criteria. If your background screening provider offers an adjudication tool, customizing rules for each position type helps ensure you don’t spend time manually reviewing and clearing results irrelevant to the role. Reducing the need for manual review of irrelevant screening results makes your team more efficient, so you can fill roles faster.

Metric 6: Discrepancy and dispute rate

Background discrepancies can occur when candidates provide information that’s inconsistent or can’t be verified, which can lead to delays in screenings being completed, costing you valuable time.

Discrepancies could result from simple errors, like candidates mistyping information or not remembering dates of employment. Monitor the percentage of:

  • All screening results with discrepancies
  • Discrepancies for each type of screening component

Examine the types of discrepancies. You can modify your adjudication criteria so discrepancies that aren’t disqualifying don’t return hits (for example, employment start dates that are within 30 days of the date provided). A similar name or mistyped Social Security number or birth date could potentially return records that belong to a different person. A background screening provider that flags input errors in the candidate workflow can help reduce discrepancies.

You may also be interested in the dispute rate. A high dispute rate for criminal records could delay how fast you can onboard a candidate – talk to your provider to better understand how records are verified and what processes are in place to reduce disputes.

Metric 7: Productivity - manual processes vs. automation

Streamlining all aspects of the background check process includes improving your team’s efficiency. To track how much time your team spends on background checks, note how many hours per week is spent on manual work related to the screening process. That might include guiding candidates through the completion process, reviewing results against your adjudication matrix, or initiating adverse action.

Understanding the number of hours your team spends on manual work related to background checks can help you reveal potential productivity gains. How much time could you save – and how much could you reduce time-to-hire – if some of these manual processes were automated within your screening provider’s platform?

Insight into your screening program’s metrics pays off

Tracking these seven metrics and applying what you learn can help you streamline your background check process, improve time-to-placement, reduce costs, and enhance your business’s competitive edge.

Make measuring metrics easy by working with a modern background check provider that offers robust reporting and analytics tools. Advanced analytics within your screening platform can help you identify reasons for slowdowns, find new opportunities to expand your talent pool, and optimize your background check process to enhance productivity and reduce costs.

Further, background check solutions that automate workflows, streamline adjudication, and offer mobile-first candidate communication tools will help you clear the bottlenecks in your background screening process. Finally, integrating your background check platform with your preferred ATS and HRIS systems will help you automate many time-consuming processes, further improving your team’s efficiency.

Choose Checkr’s advanced background check platform for fast, accurate, and compliant background checks, and you’ll be ready to fill your open roles quickly and confidently. Talk to sales to get started today.


The resources provided here are for educational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. We advise you to consult your own counsel if you have legal questions related to your specific practices and compliance with applicable laws.

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About the author

Karen Axelton writes about business topics and best practices. She has written hundreds of articles on business subjects, including background screening, hiring and employment trends, human resource management, and the use of technology in the workplace. Her work includes educational articles, e-books, white papers, and case studies.

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