Revolutionising Hiring: Anton Watson on Technology in Background Screening

By Tom McAuliffe

Integrating cutting-edge technology into background checking processes has become crucial for organisations aiming to stay ahead of competition. To delve deeper into this subject, Tom McAuliffe from KONFIR sat down with Anton Watson of THE BACKGROUND CHECK ADVISORY for an insightful Q&A session. This discussion explores the significance of new technology, common challenges, success stories, and the future trajectory of background checking.

Anton, lending his expertise, sheds light on how companies can adapt and benefit from these advancements, especially highlighting the role of Konfir’s innovative solutions in revolutionising employment verification processes.

Q1: Why is it important for organisations to incorporate new technology into their screening policies, especially in today’s competitive job market?

Looking for ways to make your background checking process faster, safer and more data compliant is vital for organisations wanting to stay competitive in today’s job market, and right now there are 4 key areas where technology is enhancing background check programs, such as:

  1. Speed and Efficiency: In a competitive job market, the ability to quickly screen and onboard candidates can give organisations a significant edge. New technology, such as your Konfir solution drastically reduces the time it takes to verify employment history, allowing companies to make faster hiring decisions and onboard quickly.
  1. Accuracy and Comprehensive Data: Traditional methods often provide a limited view and are prone to human error. New technology, like the Konfir solution, offers comprehensive and accurate employment verification by cross-referencing multiple data sources.
  1. Cost Savings: Automation and streamlined workflows are also reducing the need for manual labour, translating into significant cost savings in the long run for employers.
  1. Enhanced Candidate Experience: A quick and smooth screening process improves the candidate experience, which is crucial for employer branding. Candidates expect a quick, easy-to-navigate digital experience.

Q2: What are the common challenges organisations face when integrating technology into their background check processes, and how does Background Check Advisory help them overcome these challenges?

Here at The Background Check Advisory, we provide advice for every step of the new technology adoption process. We start with advising on the basic questions to ask the new provider and your internal risk, compliance and procurement teams, right through to the implementation plans needed to go live.

The first challenge that often requires focus is data security, it is very high on the agenda for most organisations, so it is important to ask some basic questions when you first assess a new technology solution, for example, providers such as Konfir are ISO 27001 certified and a certified Attribute Service Provider for Employment and Gap data under the UK DIATF, this is great to see for a processor of employee data and we would expect that any similar tool or provider would have the same certifications.

The second important piece is to include the right people from day one so that business partners fully understand the benefits of the new technology you want to onboard, they can help point out areas that may need further review or assessment, and we also have found that making them feel part of the decision-making process from the beginning means they will help the implementation team overcome many of the issues and challenges, rather than act as a roadblock.

Q3: Could you provide examples of success stories where companies effectively integrated new screening technology and saw improved hiring outcomes?

The example that always comes to mind is the automation of criminal record checks achieved by integration with the Disclosure Barring Service over the last few years and the more recent online digital identity revolution. These direct technology integrations saw industry turn-around times for criminal check results go from an average of 15+ days down to an average of 3 working days, and identity and right work verification has gone from a manual to an automated real-time process.

Now we are beginning to see similar success stories with employment checks, as providers such as yourselves are leading the way with immediate data verification for employment referencing. 

By way of example, I understand that Konfir’s partnership with Mitie has helped them reduce the average time to hire from 12 days down to 5 days, and this is largely because their employment referencing now takes minutes instead of days. This is a significant and positive development for an area of background checks that has notoriously been an issue for most background check programs in the UK.

Cost is also a large focus for most organisations, and reducing the time taken to chase employment references via email and on the telephone is also improving with people using the Konfir solution, this is in-turn helping to reduce operating expenses as they are not having to chase for missing or late employment references.

Q4: How can organisations add the use of Konfir’s technology to their screening policy, and what benefits can they expect?

From what I can see of the Konfir solution, it is very easy to add to existing background check policies and processes. No material changes are required, other than achieving faster turn-around times for employment reference checks and more secure data transmission. Your solution has been designed to easily integrate into existing onboarding systems and with leading background check providers, making the adoption seamless. I also note that it can be used out of the box directly with Konfir without any code integration.

Apart from the obvious turn-around time benefits your solution provides, the other significant improvement to employment referencing is the comprehensive verification the check provides. You use a multi-data source approach which provides a 360-degree view of a candidate’s employment history, covering 100% of the UK workforce, something not possible with manual employment verification.

It’s also good to see that the product not only speeds up the verification process but is also fully compliant with UK regulations, offering peace of mind along with efficiency gains.

Q5:  How do you foresee technology evolving in background checking, and how can organisations stay ahead of the curve?

With the significant rise in AI and Machine Learning we are already seeing the way checks are being conducted become more automated – the processing of data is more secure, and I think you will see the assessment of results as the next development because AI and machine learning will continue to evolve and learn how to not only retrieve but also analyse data.

As the technology continues to evolve companies can also look to incorporate more data sources into tools such as your Konfir solution, that will allow you to present a fuller picture of a candidate’s background. For example, you could easily see the next step being the inclusion of additional data sets like the FCA register and the Companies House directorship database.

The final area I think we will see continue to evolve is the way results are fed back to the end users. Employers spend a lot of time reviewing results and waiting for updates on specific checks. With the continued automation of specific checks, you will likely see future technologies offering real-time updates on background checks, making the process even more dynamic.

Q6: Do you foresee any issues or concerns with the introduction of more technology and automation into the background-checking process?

No not really, new technology and AI solutions will continue to improve the background checking process for both the candidate and the employer by making data collection, transmission, processing and assessment much quicker and more secure.

As conducting background checks and reporting of results becomes more automated, we also need to ensure the people reviewing the results have the knowledge, skills and experience needed to identify and successfully investigate discrepancies – i.e., mitigate the risks posed.

This is important because as we see technology advance in leaps in bounds, we also see fraudsters becoming more knowledgeable of background check systems and processes. It’s therefore vital that along with advancements in technology we also see advancements in the skills, knowledge and experience of background check investigators. That is where we see ourselves here at The Background Check Advisory playing a significant role, by providing foundation level background check training as well as ongoing advice on policies and investigative techniques for people reviewing, assessing and decisioning background check results.

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