Background Screening – Do it yourself or outsource it?

There are very few positions you can immediately walk into, no questions asked. And if you can, it’s probably with a dodgy employer. As a bare minimum, employers have to check they’re employing people legally. Many do many more checks. These can include CV fact checking, getting applicants to apply for DBS checks, or credit checks. It’s a lot of work. All this background screening is designed to limit company risk. But is it something you need to do in-house, or are there advantages to outsourcing it?

Why do background screening anyway?

This should always be the starting point for any organisation wondering about background screening. Just because your competitors are doing it, don’t rush into checking if it’s not right for you. If you’ve only been checking the legal right to work and relying on your instinct at interview, you are complying with legal requirements. You don’t have to do more in-depth checking if you don’t want to. However, if you have concerns that your current recruitment process has gaps, then background screening might be the way to go. Knowing which risks you wish to minimise should help you work out what types of checks you want to do.

Screening In-House – the Advantages

If you are only recruiting occasionally, then it makes a lot more sense to handle these checks yourself. Have a designated person in the company who is responsible for organising credit referencing, ordering the DBS check if relevant, or auditing a candidate’s online presence. If it’s an occasional task, they can often do this along with their other responsibilities. It doesn’t cost you any more, and you can get very quick updates about how the checks are progressing.

Outsourcing Pre-Employment Checks

If however you’re a larger organisation with a larger volume of applications, getting an external company to help with your screening is a wise move. For a start, external screening agencies can often turn around checks much more quickly. It’s their full time job, and they’re not juggling your checks along with their other job responsibilities. External agencies are also non-biased. They haven’t met the people who they are checking, and haven’t formed personal impressions of them at interview. It can also be hard to keep up to date with changes in privacy laws, and know what sorts of checks are allowed. If you outsource your screening, then it is no longer your job to keep one eye on the law bulletins. Most screening companies can also tailor the checks they do to your business requirements.

The downside to all of this is obviously the cost. However, it might not be as expensive as you think. Weigh the cost of outsourcing your pre-employment checks against the cost of having a staff member tied up doing them internally. Think also about the potential cost of recruiting the wrong person, having to let them go and recruit all over again. Usually, agencies will offer better rates on a higher number of checks. Price is always negotiable – shop around!