Don’t Let Slow Background Checks Hinder Hiring in the Hospitality Industry

Bryan Sise
January 19, 2023
5 min read

Candidates will take a job with the company that completes the background check process first. Find out how to get an edge on the competition.

The hospitality industry is experiencing a challenging hiring paradox. One in 5 new jobs are created solely by the hospitality and tourism industry, yet the labor market is still tight – job openings remain historically high, exceeding the number of unemployed people by 4.3 million. Compounding a difficult situation, applicants are dropping out of the apply flow at a higher rate (20% higher) for reasons including lack of visibility into the application status, long processing times, and being recruited for a similar role by a competing hospitality company.

These challenges leave many hotels and restaurants scrambling to find qualified candidates during peak hiring season. Background checks are one of the primary points where hospitality job-seekers fall out of the hiring funnel, making it especially important to move qualified talent through the process as quickly as possible. Otherwise, it’s not uncommon to see candidates who have 3 or 4 applications with several companies take a job with whichever company completes the background check process first.

To avoid losing revenue and top talent (and potentially creating a bad experience for hotel and restaurant guests), we tapped Bill Haller, Enterprise Solution Consultant at Checkr, to learn how hospitality companies can close candidates more quickly with consistently fast background check turnaround times.

Legacy providers struggle to keep up with demand

While screening is a cornerstone to building a trusted team, hospitality companies tell us that slow turnaround times are the number one roadblock to bringing on enough employees to meet demand. (Before switching to Checkr, customers say background checks with previous vendors were taking anywhere from 7-10 days to 2-3 weeks.)

Hospitality companies need a faster background check process throughout the year but especially during peak hiring seasons. As one example, Bill described a common occurrence in the hospitality industry: “Loss of candidates on the restaurant side is a huge deal. The industry is really competitive, and not all restaurants do background checks. If your restaurant does them, they have to be really fast. You may not realize it, but that means you need a vendor that provides a streamlined experience for the candidate.”

Even a provider whose standard turnaround time is 3-5 days can easily run into delays during peak hiring season. Said Bill: “It’s not just the actual turnaround time of the record search itself. It’s the entire end-to-end process.” Factors such as little to no automation, inefficient manual processes, high dispute rates, and a poorly designed candidate workflow can increase turnaround times.

The background check vendor you use can make a big difference.

“Most providers rely on manual processes to review candidate data and verify charges, and that’s really hard to do in an efficient way,” Bill explained. "In fact, it is not uncommon for less automated background check vendors to bring on additional employees to process an influx of background checks during peak hiring seasons," he added. Searches can quickly become backlogged, which lengthens the time it takes to return the background check report, and delays the overall job application process.

But a technology-first background check platform that is built to handle large volumes of background checks is able to deliver consistently fast turnaround times throughout the year. Checkr processes 1.5 million background checks per month with no impact on turnaround times.

In 2022, the leisure and hospitality industry’s peak hiring season spanned from March through June, but Checkr’s turnaround times remained consistently fast. 

How to improve background check turnaround times

1. Use a provider that taps into the power of machine learning

Using a combination of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, Checkr automates many processes that our competitors do manually. This includes an intelligent record-matching engine that is used to classify, sort, and assign records to candidates. With every new data input, the algorithm improves and the data engine gets even smarter with every check performed. “By using this technology, it means we can complete that check more quickly and with a very high degree of confidence that we’ve matched the right criminal record to the right person,” said Bill.

2. Use a provider that uses technology to reduce errors

Some of the most significant background checks delays are caused by one of two reasons: 1) a candidate makes a mistake when completing their personal information, and 2) a candidate disputes a record on their background check report.

Checkr uses technology to help eliminate these issues. The first is through a smart workflow we call “exceptions handling” within the candidate portal. If a candidate provides inadequate or inaccurate information (for example, their Social Security number is inputted incorrectly), a workflow is automatically initiated, alerting the candidate to correct their information or upload any necessary documents. By addressing these issues before the search kicks off, we can reduce the next most common cause of delays – record disputes.

The use of AI and machine learning enables Checkr to be more accurate than other vendors. Checkr's algorithm matches names, dates of birth, and other personal identifying information between the candidate and the criminal record. If the platform flags a record as uncertain, a team of Checkr QA experts review the data to help ensure accuracy.

“Checkr has ten times fewer disputes on background checks than other vendors; we’re just more accurate,” Bill explained. “And because we’re more accurate, less candidates dispute the results of screenings, which can significantly delay the hiring process.” Most importantly? Hiring teams are not making employment decisions based on inaccurate or incomplete data.

3. Use a provider that applies local compliance filters

In the hospitality industry, many hotel and restaurant chains are hiring in multiple locations. Since different jurisdictions (cities, counties, and states) have different regulations about how to use background checks during the hiring process, it can be difficult for hiring teams to keep track of what’s legally reportable in each location. When this has to be done in a manual way, it adds more time to the screening process.

To improve efficiency and completion times, Checkr automatically applies legal reporting restrictions according to your and your candidate’s locations. The platform uses automated filters to evaluate every record and applies a set of rules to determine whether a record can be shown based on local laws (such as look-back periods and record types) that are applicable to both the employer and candidate – which is critical if you’re hiring in multiple jurisdictions.

Find out how Kimpton Hotels reduced

Get an edge over the competition with Checkr

There are hundreds of background check providers to choose from, however, not all providers’ turnaround times are comparable. Some providers may use inferior technology, access outdated data sources, or rely too heavily on manual review processes. From start to finish, all of these things greatly impact the end-to-end background check process and the delivery of timely results.

For hospitality companies, attracting and hiring high-quality talent must be done as fast as possible. By using automation and technology for 97.2% of its background screenings, Checkr has proven its ability to decrease median turnaround times by approximately 35%. And with 1.5 million background screenings processed on our platform per month with no impact on turnaround times, hospitality businesses can more quickly and easily bring on the right talent at the right time.

"We run 5,000 to 6,000 background checks per year. It used to take 7-10 days. We are at a day or less now with Checkr. Which is important because we need staff yesterday!"

Ultimately, recruiters can spend more time recruiting rather than answering candidate questions, correcting manual errors, or deciphering local background screening laws.

With Checkr, companies also get access to fast, robust tools and platform features that decrease the end-to-end background check process and improve efficiency, including:

  • 70+ HR tech integrations: Add Checkr to your ATS or HRIS and put all candidate data in one place so you can handle high volumes quickly.
  • Visibility into background check ETAs: Recruiters and candidates get an estimate of when background screenings will be complete, enabling them to plan accordingly. With more transparency, candidates are more engaged in the process, decreasing the chances of them dropping out of the application flow. Checkr ETA reduces background check status questions by up to 71%.
  • Faster, fairer adjudication through technology: Automate the process of checking background check results against your company’s standards with Checkr's Assess adjudication suite and make smarter, more confident hiring decisions. Checkr’s Assess technology unblocks more candidates, saves time, and reduces manual work by up to 70%. Assess enables you to speed up the evaluation process even further so you can focus on the most eligible candidates.

From the candidate workflow to order completion, Checkr simplifies and streamlines the entire background check process, enabling companies in hospitality industries to focus their efforts on recruitment, then keep candidates engaged, informed and in the pipeline all the way through to the final job offer.

Ready to enjoy increased efficiency and lightning-quick turnaround times on your background screenings? Contact Checkr to get started.


The resources and information provided here are for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Always consult your own counsel for up-to-date legal advice and guidance related to your practices, needs, and compliance with applicable laws.

About the author

As VP of Product & Customer Marketing at Checkr, Bryan is responsible for educating current and prospective customers about the value and use of our products. He is passionate about understanding the needs of companies and candidates who use Checkr, and helping them get the most from the platform.

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