What to look for in a background vendor

Hiring a background-check vendor is serious business, and requires patience and research.


A background check is one of the most important measures available for screening potential or current candidates. Used properly, it can enable hiring of the best talent. However, if done sloppily, it can unleash a hoard of unnecessary issues upon the employer. Therefore, hiring a good reference-check vendor is the first important step in the hiring process.

There is, however, a challenge there. What with the sheer number of vendors out there, and each one claiming to be the ‘best in the market’, finding the right one for an organisation is hardly a piece of cake.

On the other hand, if an employer knows exactly what to look for, finding the right service provider should not be so hard either. Some of the important factors to consider are as follows:

Services offered

Nowadays, it has become usual for vendors to provide a range of services, such as education and employment verification, as well as criminal record checks among others. However, it becomes important to ask whether they provide customised or standardised services.

Under standard services, they usually provide a fixed range of services, which may be common across vendors. If the standards are well defined, they can provide some accurate information. While standard services may be faster, many prefer customised services.

Every organisation’s needs are different, and as such, finding a vendor that can cater to those specific needs can be helpful. While this may be a little time consuming, the accuracy gained makes it all worth the while.

Saba Adil

If a person is doing a reference check with a CXO level person then the interviewer has to be senior enough to do that interview


The footprint of the organisation — whether it has a global, national, regional or local presence — is also of significance. Nowadays, it is common to hire candidates who may have lived, worked or studied abroad. In such a case, a service with multilingual capabilities, which can conduct searches outside the country, will be preferable.

Ashish Chattoraj, CHRO, PayU, says, “Today, companies are looking to hire from all over the country or even outside. Therefore, the footprint of the organisation becomes very important.”

Saba Adil, CPO, Raheja QBE General Life Insurance, says, “What matters more than the footprint, is the vendor’s connects and networks within the industry.  Vendors should be well networked and have representation across.”


Finding a vendor who can guarantee security is vital, because security has come to be very  important for organisations. Chattoraj adds that vendors should have some well-defined standard operating procedures. They should also have regular audits of their processes and their manner of execution.

Regular audits are also important in choosing vendors, as there is assurance of some form of internal control or regulation in terms of how the vendors are carrying out their processes.

Ashish Chattoraj

Today companies are looking to hire from all over the country or even outside, therefore the footprint of the organisation becomes very important


A vendor who has already carried out background checks for organisations within the industry will have a much better knowledge of the processes than one who has not. Also, many industries have specific compliance requirements which the vendor should be able to navigate easily.

The vendor’s experience matters for another reason. Sometimes, while conducting reference checks, the person conducting the checks may end up conducting mundane checks and asking only basic questions. For detailed reference checks, an experienced interviewer possessing the capacity to nudge and probe information out of the referees is required.

Adil believes, “If a person is doing a reference check with a CXO-level person, then the interviewer has to be senior enough to perform that interview. It is necessary to keep probing and deep diving till one gets the required feedback.”

Reference check

Last but not the least, it is essential to conduct a thorough reference check upon the vendors themselves, with other companies that have used their services before. This always helps to get a better idea of the vendors’ capabilities and their performance in different situations and in response to varying client requirements. Adil adds that it is always better to conduct a pilot test for a month or two to understand the level of performance of the vendors, before making the hiring decision.

Hiring a background check vendor is serious business and due diligence is a must while selecting one for the organisation.


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