Every organisation wants to hire the best person for the job, so it’s crucial to include pre-employment checks as part of your recruitment process, to help reduce the risk of employing the wrong candidate.

Yet these checks can take time and the competition for skilled talent remains high, so the last thing you want to do is lose out on great candidates because your screening process is sluggish.



The cost of pre-employment delays

According to research by Glassdoor, the average length of the interview process in the UK is 27 days; however, a recent survey by Robert Half found that 43% of applicants will lose interest in a company if they don’t hear back within two weeks, following an initial interview.

“Slow pre-employment checking may delay the start date for new employees,” remarks Mary Asante, director of HRi. “It may also lead to project delays or missing critical deadlines and can result in the organisation losing out on talent as candidates may not wait around too long for the checks to be completed.”

Enhanced pre-employment checks are clearly a vital and necessary part of the recruitment process. However, they can also be seen as a burden on already-stretched HR and in-house recruitment teams.

“Pre-employment checks can be a massive administrative burden,” comments Ben Myhill, head of sales at Silver Cloud HR. “Depending on the role, they can be extensive, time consuming, and can delay the time between job offer and start date, therefore increasing the overall time-to-hire.”

Organisations obviously don’t want to risk losing talent to a competitor or damaging the overall candidate experience, so how can you speed up the employment checking process and ensure it is more engaging for candidates?



Make use of automation

One of the most effective ways of streamlining the screening process and reducing the time between a new starter’s offer and their first day, is by automating time-consuming tasks such as right-to-work checks.

Features such as Hirechecks, our pre-employment and onboarding actions module, can automate many of the pre-employment checks that would otherwise eat up time for in-house recruiters, by quickly collating and recording all the necessary documents that form part of the onboarding process.

Automating your reference requests will also help to save time and reduce any administrative burden, as it enables you to automatically send tailored requests quickly and easily.

“Automation is key as it ensures that all background checks form part of your recruitment workflow process,” says Ben Myhill. “Ideally, plug-in background checking software as this will automate administration tasks and consolidate these separate processes, as well as provide key KPI information to the hiring team on progress or any outstanding tasks.”


Avoid these common mistakes

There are a number of key mistakes that organisations often make that can take chunks of time out of the hiring process, or even be detrimental to the business.

“A major pitfall is when employers fail to gain consent from the applicant for screening purposes, and process their data in the wrong manner,” warns Katie Fletcher, senior HR projects adviser at Howarths. “Consent is crucial to ensure compliance with screening practices. Also, data protection legislation requires organisations to ensure all personal data is processed fairly, lawfully and transparently, and that personal data is obtained only for specific, explicit and lawful purposes.”

One other common slip-up is accepting information on face value, adds Mary Asante. “A number of employers make this mistake as they may have limited resources to verify key information that job applicants provide, such as qualifications listed on their CVs.”



 Maintain engagement with candidates

Regular communication is the most effective way to keep candidates engaged and reassured throughout the process. This can include emails, links to onboarding modules, new starter actions they can carry out before their first day, and sending out a schedule of induction activities and any other onboarding information.

“Building strong initial relationships is often key to securing candidates, especially if they may be choosing between two roles at different organisations,” comments Katie Fletcher. “Manage their expectations by confirming when you will next contact them, and then ensure you do so.”

It’s vital you make your process clear from the outset, advises Mary Asante. “Candidates need to understand what is expected of them, in terms of background checks and the timeline associated with this. Engaging with the candidates by keeping them informed of any delays and where you are in the process helps. It is a candidates’ market, and most candidates will have several options. Making the recruitment process a smooth and positive experience will help your organisation stand out and appeal to top talent.”


Improve efficiency with integration

Integration between your ATS and HR system will ensure a smooth transfer of information and help to make your hiring process more streamlined as there will be no admin hold-ups.

According to the CIPD Resourcing and Talent Planning Survey 2021, nearly two-thirds of employers who have used technology to hire talent say it has sped up the recruitment process.

“Integrating an ATS into the HR system will ensure that successful candidates already have their information in the HR systems,” says Mary Asante. “It will save administrative time and enable HR departments to become more efficient, with more resources to focus on value-add work.”

About the author

Tristan Potter

From candidate experience to flexible working, and from supporting graduates to ATS reports; Hannah's written it all over the years! Hannah has contributed to publications as diverse as The Guardian, UK Recruiter and University Business. She is also the wordsmith behind our whitepapers and guides, from GDPR to Employee Volunteering.