The Surprising Similarities Between Baseball and Background Screening

(Last Updated On: April 14, 2021)


It’s spring and baseball opening days are happening all across the country.  This year you can feel an extra layer of excitement as fans are beginning to return to the stadiums.  We are all so ready to experience the thrills, drama, suspense and excitement that going to a baseball game can bring.

Likewise, I’m feeling much of that same excitement about business right now.  There is an energy in the air of things picking back up again, people returning to the office and getting back on track.  We are ready to take the lessons we have learned over the past year and we’re coming back stronger and better than ever before.   Similar to the beginning of a baseball season, there’s a feeling that anything can happen.  For many leaders, it is time to start hiring again. There could not be a more critical time for making the right kind of leadership decisions than right now.

Grab a hot dog and let’s take a look at how some lessons from baseball can help grow our companies right now:

First inning: Scouting is important- To have a winning team means you have to have great employees.  In business, the time you spend seeking out great talent is the difference between success and failure.  As the great Oriole manager Earl Weaver is quoted to have said, “It’s the ballplayers who win or lose the game, rarely the manager,” he continues. “The manager’s job is to do everything it takes to set his or her team up to win.” 

Second inning: A diverse team brings strength– Of course it’s exciting to watch athletic superstars hit homeruns, but if you want to get the championship, you need a well-rounded team.  Great hiring managers know that you’ve got to fill roles with a broad set of talents and strengths.  It is your job to create a team that works together and complements each other.  Filling your roster with employees with the same background and skill set can cause your team to be one-sided and vulnerable to missing important insights and experiences.  Fine tuning your background screening process can help achieve your diversity goals.

Third inning: Seek good advice- In order to reach maximum potential, a great team needs great experts to guide them.  As a hiring manager, you need to tap the knowledge of industry experts who can check your processes and provide advice based on their years of specialized experience.

Fourth inning: Follow a routine- Routine and consistency are crucial to achieve greatness in sports.  Having a consistent routine helps to avoid errors and keep your mind focused.  In the hiring process, and particularly in background screening, having a consistent process that applies to all applicants is critical.  This allows you to look at all applicants on an even playing field and helps avoid any misunderstandings or costly mistakes.

Fifth inning: Be focused on outcomes- From the time a kid starts playing t-ball up through the major leagues, players are taught to keep their eye on the ball.  Know where the ball is and where you want it to go.  Are the actions you are taking getting you to where you need to be?  Likewise, great hiring managers need to be focused on outcomes.  Does your background screening process contain the elements that are going to get you what you need?  Are there elements your background screening package that you need to re-evaluate and/or possibly eliminate?  What are your goals?

Sixth inning- Communicate, communicate, communicate- Baseball is known for its chatter.  Communication between players and coaches is constant, often involving elaborate hand signals and gestures.  Although it’s often times both baffling and entertaining for spectators, it is clear that players and coaches are on the same page, communicating effectively to get the job done.  Likewise in the hiring process, applicants need to be heard and updated throughout the hiring cycle.  During the background screening process, candidates need to have a live person they can talk to who is familiar with their report.  They want an opportunity to contribute and explain their unique situations.  Proper communication can be the difference between a home run and a missed opportunity.

Seventh inning- Control your emotions- Chuck Tanner once said, “There are three secrets to managing.  The first secret is have patience. The second is be patient. And the third most important secret is patience.”  Baseball demands patience.  Rushing the play is just not an option.  For a good background screening report, the same holds true.  If you want a good outcome, faster is not always better.  There are times when elements are going to come back quickly, and other times when you made need to wait a little longer for the best results.

Eighth inning- Handle the curveballs- Standing at the plate, a hitter has no idea what is going to be thrown at him.  A curveball can come at any minute.  The tricky thing about a curveball is its ability to change at the last minute.  You think the ball is going one way and suddenly it changes and you better be able to adjust quickly.  We all know these things happen in business as well.  Background checks are no exception.  You should be prepared for curveballs.  What is your response going to be if negative information comes back?  How does the negative information pertain to the job?  These are questions you should be prepared to answer and document.  Following EEOC guidelines, if you deny employment due to criminal record, an individualized assessment should take place.  Also, make sure you are following proper Adverse Action procedures.

Ninth Inning- Learn from your mistakes- Slumps happen.  Sometimes even when you have trained and prepared, things can go wrong.  The best players can take an honest look at their situation, regroup and make the adjustments needed to get back up there and succeed.  In speaking of great (but struggling) players Jim Leyland once said, “In my experience, the good ones go back down, figure out how to get better, and come back up.” As in baseball, your background screening provider should be able to provide administrative reporting tools so you can check your stats.  If you are not getting the results you want from your background screening process, don’t give up, just regroup.  An experienced partner can help you brainstorm solutions to get your game back on track.


Everyone wants to field a winning team.  Next time you cheer on your favorite team, think of these basic strategies to offer direction and guidance in your background screening process.

To learn more about how Justifacts’ can help with your background screening process feel free to request information or give us a call at 800-356-6885 to speak to our sales team.


It is important to note that Justifacts is providing this information as a service to our clients. None of the information contained herein should be construed as legal advice, nor is Justifacts engaged to provide legal advice. We go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful. We recommend you consult your attorney or legal department if you want assurance that our information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate to your particular situation.