Stop Losing Good Candidates to a Bad Background Check Process

Kate Rhodes
May 13, 2024
4 min read

With today’s high employee turnover rates and tight labor market, employers continue to have a pressing need to fill empty roles. Not only do you want the best candidates, but you need quick candidate conversions, too. One of the top contributors to candidate frustration is the background check process, and a bad process can lead to hiring delays or worse—lost candidates.

Although it’s an important part of today’s hiring flow, many candidates find background checks stressful and invasive, especially if they’re one of the 1 in 3 Americans with an arrest record. To provide a better background check experience, employers can take a more thoughtful approach—from the start of the background check through to delivering report results and hiring decisions.

Here are four ways your hiring team can keep more candidates in the pipeline and boost conversions by using an intentional, candidate-first approach to background checks.

1. Set clear expectations

When conducting background checks as part of your hiring process, it’s critical to let candidates know what they can expect. It can be helpful to explain why you’re conducting a background check in the first place and what types of searches and verifications will be used. There are many different types of background checks—including criminal history, motor vehicle records, education and employment verification, drug testing, and more. Be sure to let candidates know which screenings they can expect.

Not only can being upfront about the process help ease some candidates’ worries, but it can also ensure they know what information they may need to have ready. For example, if they’re going to participate in a drug test, then they may need to gather paperwork, like medical prescriptions, and make time to schedule a lab appointment.

Build a seamless and speedy background check experience

2. Make a great first impression

To give candidates peace of mind about background checks and kick-start their engagement, your hiring team needs to put its best foot forward—right out of the gate. Ensuring your hiring managers always come across as professional can help candidates feel comfortable and secure when beginning the background check process, especially when providing personal information. 

Whether you're using a background check provider that contacts candidates for you or sending your own communication, it’s important that the candidate invite doesn’t feel second-rate—or worse, think your messages look like spam that should be ignored. Consider customizing your invitation email or letter with company branding such as your logo, colors, and fonts. You can also include welcoming and personalized messaging that indicates your attention to the candidate experience.

3. Meet candidates where they are

Candidates use their mobile devices for job searches and employment applications now more than ever. Employers can use mobile apps and candidate portals to keep talent engaged wherever they are. With 50% of candidates reporting that they’ve failed to complete employment forms, mobile onboarding can be a crucial tool for ensuring candidates can access and fill out documents quickly, like consent or authorization forms.

Some modern background check platforms, like Checkr, have built-in workflows that not only guide candidates through submitting personal information and completing forms, but also catch errors, provide alerts, and offer support via chat, email, and phone.

Modernize your background checks with Checkr

4. Keep the lines of communication open

Job hunting can be very stressful for candidates—especially when it feels like it’s taking a long time. Instead of risking candidates feeling left in the dark, consider transparent communication policies and sending regular status updates. This can help keep your candidates engaged in the background check process from start to finish. 

Candidates who have a criminal record may feel particularly uneasy if you’re looking into their criminal history. They may worry that you’ll discover a past arrest or a conviction that could disqualify them from employment. To help calm nerves, your hiring team can provide candidates with the opportunity to share their story about the circumstances of a certain record and explain rehabilitation efforts.

Don’t let a bad background check process cost you top candidates

Every hour that a candidate hasn’t started in a new role can mean lost revenue for your business. Bottlenecks can happen anywhere during the hiring process, but background checks are one of the most common causes of delays. Employers who take a more thoughtful approach to improving the candidate background check experience can help reduce candidate churn and boost conversion rates.

Simple improvements like setting clear expectations and making a professional first impression can help ensure the background check process gets off to a smooth start. Giving candidates access to easy-to-use technology and open communication along the way keeps candidates moving through the funnel faster—all while improving the overall candidate experience.

Checkr helps you build streamlined background check workflows that speed turnaround times and make it easier to manage compliance. Our candidate portal gives your valuable candidates a transparent view of their background check every step of the way, and our FCRA-certified support teams are here to give them an excellent candidate experience. Get started with Checkr now. 

Hire qualified talent with fast, accurate background checks


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

As Content Marketing Manager at Checkr, Kate is passionate about developing resources that educate employers and job candidates about background checks, hiring insights, and the opportunity to build a better future through fair chance hiring.

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