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Effective Candidate Communication for Background Checking

The words “effective communication” appears at the top of the list for most things! You need to practice effective communication in many facets of life from your relationships, to teaching your children right from wrong, in your chosen profession and right through to negotiating the purchase of your dream home! Excellent communication skills prevent misunderstandings and give clarity and direction.

Background checking is essentially all about people and the communication of information between various parties. From candidates; to clients; to PeopleCheck as a background checking provider; to our network of contacts and information brokers. Given the sensitive nature of both the information being handled and the use of background checking as a selection and risk-minimisation tool, strong communication with all stakeholders from start to finish is essential.

This article looks at why communication with candidates is key, when and how information on background checking should be provided to candidates and how PeopleCheck can assist each of our clients in enhancing the entire process through effective communication.

Why is candidate communication so important?

Background checking deals with the collection and use of a candidate’s personal information, so it can be a sensitive topic for them. This recruitment step is much more seamless and reflects better on an employer if the candidate is comfortable throughout the process.

If, by the point of their first contact with PeopleCheck, a candidate has a basic understanding of why background checking will be undertaken, why it is required and a basic rundown of what is involved, we have found this dramatically improves the process throughout, including:

  • Candidate expectations around the information that will be collected and validated;
  • Candidate receptiveness to PeopleCheck communications;
  • Candidate responsiveness/timeliness in completing forms and uploading any necessary documentation to our online portal;
  • Reduces complaints or unhappy candidates;
  • Keeps candidates informed so they feel included; and
  • Promotes transparency.

Additionally, communication with candidates on some matters is mandatory for compliance with legislation such as the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) or the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), as well as the requirements of third parties, such as the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission where candidates need to be provided with a copy of their police information, in order that they can appeal the result.

When should background checking be introduced?

Communication about background checking needs to start long before a candidate is contacted by a background checking company.

The earlier background checking is introduced during the recruitment process, the better.  PeopleCheck’s most successful partnerships with clients have fostered the following strategies:

  • All advertised positions, both internally and externally, through agencies or directly, mention that background checking is a requirement for the role;
  • Once the preferred candidate is selected, all offers of employment, oral or written, should be clearly noted as contingent on successful background checking;
  • All individuals subject to background checking should be advised of the checks to be undertaken; how the information collected will be used; where the information will be transferred; and to whom information will be disclosed; and
  • The potential employee should be advised what company will be responsible for the background checking, that their basic contact details (telephone number and email address) will be provided to them to initiate the process, how this party will be in contact with them and that they are required to provide information in order for the background checking to be It should be emphasised that the new role cannot be confirmed until the background checking process is finalised.

Written communication can be incorporated into a candidate’s contract, mentioned on online recruitment portals, documented in internal policies and/or provided as a flyer/document as part of their offer information pack.

An example of the type of information you may choose to incorporate into internal communication may include:

  • Why background checking is important to the organisation and how it helps to protect the community, customers, colleagues and the candidate as an employee;
  • When background checking will apply and what will happen if a candidate does not consent;
  • What background checks will be undertaken;
  • What will happen if adverse information is identified and how the company will deal with these instances;
  • The relevant internal contacts and escalation points for internal queries on the process;
  • What special details may be required from candidates, such as proof of identity documents; and
  • How the company will deal with a candidate’s previous overseas employment or education and why additional information may be required.

How does PeopleCheck approach candidate communication?

Once a background checking request has been made by our client, the communication “baton” is passed to PeopleCheck.  We utilise a combination of emails and phone calls (as well as liaisons through our online portal) to communicate with candidates and we encourage them to contact us if they need our assistance.

Our process involves reaching out to the candidate via telephone within 24 hours from the background check being initiated, to answer any questions and put the candidate at ease. Additionally, each case is assigned to a member of our Research, Investigation & Development team, which means the candidate generally has continuity of contact from start to finish. PeopleCheck’s personal approach ensures that candidates continue to feel informed and supported throughout the background checking process.

PeopleCheck encourages all our clients to build strong processes around initial contact with candidates to ensure communication is given its warranted emphasis from the very start of the process.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2014 and has been completely updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness – May 2019.

The information contained in this post is the opinion of PeopleCheck Pty Ltd and does not form the basis of legal advice.

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