Adoption of Automation in Background Screening – the pros and the cons.

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Automation in Background Screening

Co-authored by Manas Ramesh, 21 September 2018

Step through, please – this is the Employee Background Screening  Walkthrough Metal Detector!

You have to hire a CFO for your organization. You are expected to administer previous employment, education check, national address locator, felony/ misdemeanour, and DMV information. Wouldn’t it be nice to have him walk through your BGV Walkthrough Metal Detector and instantly identify whether he is a Clear, Hit, or Pending? Wishful thinking – but alas such a degree of automation is not possible and in some cases not desirable to have in background screening.

Technological advances have made the possibility of making instant background screening a reality. The adoption of automation in background screening is a double-edged sword – it has both pros and cons. Neeyamo has developed a simple framework called “ABCD” to analyse if a check needs to be automated depending on the degree of judgement required and the degree of digitation available in a particular jurisdiction. Provided below is the ABCD Framework with checks (for illustrative purpose only) across quadrants at a random jurisdiction.

Automate BGV

  1. Advocate to Automate (Quadrant I): Checks requiring a low level of judgement but also currently having a low level of digitization may require some degree of advocacy and lobbying with relevant authorities to drive automation. For example, Neeyamo has set up a massive infrastructure to digitize university records and has been collaborating with universities across India to get this going.
  2. Best to Automate (Quadrant II): Checks that requires a low level of judgement but having high levels of digitization are the best candidates for automation.
  3. Can be Automated (Quadrant III): These are the checks that require a high degree of judgement and at the same time has a reasonable amount of digitization. With the increase in sophistication of technologies, some judgement intensive processes can be automated. Developments in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning greatly increases the scope of automation.
  4. Don’t Automate (Quadrant IV): Checks that are low on or are difficult to digitize and are high on judgement are best not be automated.


The Pros of Automation in Background Screening:

The advantages of adopting automation in background screening are obvious. Creating an integration with an ATS, an HRMS and a Verification Management System (VMS) makes the process of administering background verification seamless and efficient. The VMS,, could be configured to run series of checks on the applicant based on certain unique identifiers such as social security number. The key advantages of adopting automation in background screening include,

  • Improved accuracy of data entry.
  • Improved efficiency and increasingly reduced turnaround time
  • Reduced concerns about collecting PII (Personally Identifiable Information).
  • Improved security, data protection, and redundancy.


The Cons of Automation in Background Screening:

Background screening is a highly sensitive process. The hiring decision of a candidate, (which could impact the reputation and risk factors of an organization) hinges on the reliability of the screening process. Background checks based solely on database checks can sometimes result in false negatives or false positives giving employers a false sense of security. The implications behind relying on an automated process on a semi-digital ecosystem could have an adverse impact on the BGV process. Some of the disadvantages of pursuing automation in such an ecosystem include,

  • Databases called to run automated checks very often has issues regarding timeliness, completeness, and accuracy.
  • Some of the data are unfiltered by a professional Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA) that has an obligation under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) to provide accurate data.
  • The process validates only the historical data set and the check itself is as good as the data sets it validates against.
  • Very often – especially in geographies where hybrid infrastructure (physical as well as digital) exists – the automation of certain background checks could only be half as reliable.

So, while there are organizations adopting moon-shot thinking by pursuing goals to create a digital version of what could be called an Employee Background Screening Walkthrough Metal Detector, it is best to adopt a hybrid model where certain checks are best managed manually. It may, however, be required that manual verification supplements certain automated checks – for example, in certain geographies, certain positive matches, referred to as “hit”, may have to be verified by reviewing the actual court records from a courthouse.

This said, the VMS in itself could be designed to operate the highest level of efficiency by adopting robotic “process” automation that eliminates paperwork, improves accuracy, and grossly reduces turnaround time.

So, do you want to pursue a reliable and highly efficient international background screening process for your organization, write to

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