10 Steps to Help Improve the Candidate Experience

(Last Updated On: August 22, 2023)

Article written by Sarah and Jim Trusilo


Once an applicant reaches the stage in the hiring process in which the employer is ready to start a background check, the experience can vary greatly based on one company’s needs versus another.  In some cases, it can even be customized in a completely unique way to affect the candidate experience.  If you are looking for a way to streamline and facilitate ease in your process, there are numerous steps you can take.


  1. The first step any company looking to improve the candidate experience should take is to understand the candidate experience in relation to the specific background screening searches and stages that your organization has implemented. What searches are you looking to perform?  Will it require the candidate to take time off work to accommodate the process?  Are you going to have the process automated online, or will you have a paper process?  The best way to accomplish this step will be to contact your account manager to discuss scheduling a review of your candidate process with a member of your Justifacts team.


  1. After gaining a thorough understanding, you can begin to help the Justifacts team create notes or customizations to the authorization or applicant portal process. The notes you select are meant to inform the candidate on the desired outcome in the background check.  For example, if you require 3 professional references, you might have a note that indicates the candidate is encouraged to provide at least 5 references they have worked with in the past.  As another example, you may require 7 years of employment history.  In that case, you might have a note that directs the candidate to provide employment history for that time span.


  1. When reviewing the applicant process and customizing the candidate experience, it is best to understand your average candidate’s ability to navigate electronic systems versus classic paper-based processes, and some of the concerns that may arise. With that in mind, the majority of the Justifacts electronic process can be customized.  For instance, the field asking if the candidate has been convicted of a crime can be removed if it is not relevant to the searches included in the background check.  An employee signing an authorization form for a driving record check may be more hesitant if a question like this were included.


  1. In addition to the candidate having to fill out information that they may not feel entirely comfortable in providing, the background screening process can be broken into many different steps, such as employment screening, references, drug testing, physicals, E-Verify, etc. By consolidating these steps into one fluid process, the candidate experience can greatly improve.  Instead of having different vendors handling various aspects, or even handling some of the process in-house, you might consider taking advantage of the partnerships or additional services that Justifacts has in place.


  1. An applicant tracking system, or ATS, and a human resources information system, or HRIS, can often be integrated to help transfer specific data into the background screening system, pre-populating fields for the candidate. With that in mind, some ATS and HRIS integrations send more information than others, such as an applicant’s employment history.  Knowing what to expect and conveying that to your candidate can help them to avoid any confusion as to why they are required to provide information they have already given.


  1. Giving the candidate a clear idea of what to expect throughout the process will not only cut down on follow-up questions they have but will help to speed up the process in general. When candidates have expectations on what is forthcoming as well as the timelines, they are more likely to feel empowered with their role in the process.  Letting them know who to contact if they have questions will also keep the process moving along quickly.


  1. Having open communication with your candidate will reduce the chance of having unrealistic expectations and miscommunications. Sometimes a candidate will assume that a background check is completed by simply providing a Social Security number, which they believe will pull up their full history.  While much can be uncovered using a Social Security number, many parts of a background check, including the criminal searches, specifically do not utilize the Social Security number.  Getting a feel for what the candidate expects will happen gives you an opportunity to address any misconceptions upfront.


  1. Knowing your candidate’s personal situation will allow you to be on the same page regarding how the process will play out. For instance, if your candidate is on vacation or needs to take a drug test near their place of employment, then there are ways to allow them to complete certain steps at their convenience as soon as possible.


  1. If your candidate has previously had a background check done, they may have familiarity with the process. If they have had issues with a previous background check, this information will help a background check company like Justifacts.  Have they ever had an issue with identity theft?  Has their recent employer gone out of business?  Has their undergraduate school lost accreditation?  Any hurdles to the process can be remediated from the start versus being addressed days into the process.


  1. As an added bonus, you could work with the Justifacts Customer Service Department to develop a training video as well as for a simple guide for your candidates.


Ultimately, the better you understand the process yourself, the better able you are to facilitate a positive candidate experience.  In addition, by selecting a background screening company that takes care in your process and encourages a cohesive understanding, you are set on a path to a productive and beneficial outcome for your new hires.