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How to Create a Successful Background Check RFP: A Complete Guide


HR professionals who work for large organizations and governmental entities hire frequently and rely on accurate background check reports to verify job applicants’ claims during the hiring process and ensure they do not have criminal records.

Finding a reliable background check provider that meets your large organization’s specific needs can be a challenge. Not all background check providers have the capability to deliver many reports on short notice. Some might also be unfamiliar with the laws and regulations that apply to your specific industry.

A request-for-proposal, or RFP, offers a solution to these issues.

Implementing a formal process for selecting a background check provider can help you compare quality, functionality, and features across a variety of different vendors so that you can select the one that best meets your organization’s needs.

At iprospectcheck, we have a thorough understanding of background check RFPs because we regularly — and successfully — submit them for many different types of large organizations.

We wrote this article to help you streamline your RFP process and make it easier for you to choose the best background check provider.

Let’s get started.

What is the Purpose of a Background Check RFP?

A background check RFP can be used to solicit bids, evaluate the prospective vendors’ understanding of your organization’s needs, and identify the most qualified provider.

The background check RFP process helps accomplish the following goals:

• Define your requirements for background check providers.

The background check RFP process provides a way for you to define the requirements a background check provider must meet to serve your organization.

An RFP allows you to set your requirements in the following areas:

  • Compliance with federal and state laws and regulations
  • Ability to handle employment background checks at volume
  • Customizable background check reports for different types of positions
  • Responsiveness and excellent customer service
  • Ability to provide fast turnaround times
  • Provides a smooth experience for job candidates

• Establish benchmarks to measure success.

Creating an RFP for background check providers can help to establish measurable benchmarks for evaluating your screening process. For example, your benchmarks can address reduced turnover rates, decreased costs, and improved productivity.

How Does the Background Check RFP Process Work?

Below are the four steps of an effective background check RFP process.

1. Discovery

The discovery phase of the RFP process should include:

  • Identification of key stakeholders who will be affected by the choice of background check vendors.
  • Meeting with your team to define the specific and broad goals and create a budget.
  • Discussion of how the vendors will be scored, what any deal breakers might be, the tools that will be needed, and the categories of evaluation that should be included.

Following the meeting and discussion, document all responses and provide time for a collaborative review process.

2. Drafting and Publishing the Background Check RFP

When drafting and publishing the RFP, consider the following tips:

  • Create a specific, targeted list of questions.
  • Include several open-ended questions.
  • Inform vendors that the responses they provide will be compared to those of other vendors.
  • Establish clear time frames for stakeholders and vendors.
  • Answer questions asked by vendors about the criteria or questionnaire.

3. Scoring the Responses and Creating the Shortlist

Once you receive responses from the vendors, you will need to score the responses and create your organization’s shortlist.

During this step of the process, you should:

  • Ask stakeholders to score the background check vendors’ responses and evaluate them.
  • Eliminate all providers that do not meet your organization’s criteria.
  • Identify the strengths and differentiators across vendors and shortlist the vendors with the highest scores.

4. Choosing the Best Background Check Provider and Signing a Contract

When you have narrowed down your shortlist and believe that you have found the right vendor, take the following steps:

  • If necessary, ask for any additional meetings or demos before making your final decision.
  • Check the background check provider’s reviews and contact its references.
  • Enter into negotiations, and lock in a contract with your chosen vendor.
  • Notify the other vendors to let them know that they were not chosen.
  • Work to build a strong partner relationship with your vendor for the best outcomes.

What Questions Should be Included in a Background Check RFP?

Regardless of your organization or entity type, there are several key topic areas that should be addressed in your RFP questions, including:

1. FCRA Compliance

Pre-employment background checks are governed by the Fair Credit Reporting Act, anti-discrimination laws, and local and state laws. Employers are obligated to comply with these laws during the background check process, and failure to do so can result in hefty fines and legal trouble.

Your chosen background check provider should understand all of these laws and deliver background check reports that are fully compliant.

At iprospectcheck, we provide FCRA-compliant background check reports to companies in all states – and in Canada — and remain current with all of the relevant legal changes as they occur.

2. Excellent Customer Service

A reputable employment background check vendor should be able to explain their responsiveness and timeliness in detail.

Ask potential vendors about their customer support models, when they are available, and how they can be reached.

You should also ask prospective vendors about whether they offshore customer service. Providers that do not offshore their customer service such as iprospectcheck not only protect customer privacy but offer faster resolutions to issues as well as dedicated support to their clients.

3. Provides a Streamlined Applicant Experience

In today’s market, your candidates’ experience during the hiring process can make the difference between hiring the top employees you want or having trouble filling your open positions.

An important area to cover in your background check RFP questionnaire is the vendors’ background check process. You will want to ensure that the provider provides a seamless, smooth process for your job candidates.

Ask the prospective background check providers what technology they use during the background check process. If you know what to expect, you can more easily describe the process to your prospective candidates when it is time to conduct their pre-employment background checks.

At iprospectcheck, we use the SwiftHire app to allow candidates to sign documents, review reports, and submit information from their tablets or smartphones.

4. Methods Used by the Background Check Providers

Not all background check providers use the same methods to access and deliver information. Make sure to ask vendors about the resources they leverage to provide current, accurate, and FCRA-compliant background check reports.

What quality control measures do they have in place? How do they verify the identities of your applicants? How frequently do they audit searches?

By including these evaluative questions in your RFP, you can get a better idea of the accuracy and overall quality of the prospective vendors’ background check reports.

5. Integration Capabilities

If your company uses an applicant tracking system, you should only consider vendors that can easily integrate with that software. Ask prospective vendors about their integration capabilities, the integration process, and the time it will take to complete the integration.

6. Data Privacy and Security

When you conduct background checks for your prospective employees, both you and your background check provider will handle sensitive information, including personally identifiable information.

If you choose a provider that offshores its services, the process can carry multiple security risks. Ask prospective background check providers about their data and security protocols and how they secure the confidential data they receive and send.

At iprospectcheck, we are entirely USA-based and prioritize protecting the confidentiality and privacy of our clients’ confidential data. We never offshore any of our background screening services.

Background Check RFP Process: 7 Best Practices

You can improve your background check RPF process by following these best practices:

1. Only invite a select group of vendors to respond to your RFP.

When you receive responses to your RFP, comparing them can take a lot of time. You should avoid inviting more than five companies to respond to your RFP. If you invite too many vendors, you will not have sufficient time to carefully review the responses you receive.

Instead, take time to research different pre-employment background check providers and only invite a select few to respond to your RFP. This will reduce the time you will have to spend evaluating and comparing the responses and increase the chances that you will find a great vendor that returns a stand-out response.

Ask other organizations for recommendations for background check providers they have used and like. Read reviews of the different vendors and look at any awards they have received. Compile a shortlist of the highest-quality providers you identify through your research.

It is important to look for reliable, trustworthy, full-service vendors like iprospectcheck that can handle the needs of your large organization.

2. Avoid selecting a vendor based on a pre-existing relationship.

When your organization is searching for the best employment background check provider, you should not forgo the RFP process by moving forward with a vendor based on its pre-existing relationship with one of your team members. Instead, you should invite several background check providers to submit proposals so that you can find the best background check provider for your company.

Your goal in the background check RFP process should be to find a background check provider that can meet your company’s unique hiring needs instead of simply choosing a firm with which you have an established relationship.

3. Be flexible with your expectations for your vendors’ responses to your RFP.

Do not ask prospective vendors to adhere to a rigid format when writing their responses. Allow the vendors to create their responses in their preferred formats and organize them in whatever way they wish.

When you provide vendors with a bit of latitude, you can identify proposals that stand apart from the others.

4. Provide background information about your organization in the RFP.

When you create your RFP, provide a bit of contextual information about your company. Use your RFP to communicate your values, history, and your organization’s mission.

This can help you to determine which background check vendor is a better fit for your organization and increase your chances of finding a vendor whose values align with yours.

5. Build-in time for clarification and follow-up.

Some organizations make the mistake of expecting prospective vendors to answer each question contained in the RFP in a specific way.

If you are confused by a vendor’s response, take time to follow up and ask for clarification. Make sure that you include time in your RFP process to allow for any clarifications that might be needed.

6. Look for a background check provider that can provide the best solutions.

Pay attention to the overall quality of the vendors’ responses. The background check provider you choose should clearly communicate how they can provide accurate, comprehensive, and tailored background check reports.

Assess the capabilities and breadth of services offered by each background check provider to ensure that you choose a reputable provider that can handle the needs of your large organization.

7. Prioritize quality over bottom-line price.

When reviewing proposals from prospective background check providers, avoid selecting the one that offers the lowest price as you may end up receiving reports that are riddled with errors, contain outdated information, and fail to comply with the relevant laws.

This can expose your company to multiple risks from bad hiring decisions, including negligent hiring liability and reduced workplace safety.

Instead, you are better off choosing a reputable, FCRA-compliant background check provider like iprospectcheck that offers accurate, high-quality background check reports.

iprospectcheck: Your Trusted Partner for Fast, Accurate, Compliant Background Checks

While the background check RFP process can seem daunting and time-consuming, it can be a great way to find the best pre-employment background check provider for your large organization or government agency. By researching different providers and taking the time to craft the right questions to include in your RFP, you can get better quality responses.

At iprospectcheck, we have the resources, training, and technology to provide the highest-quality background check reports to large organizations quickly. We do not offshore any of our services and prioritize the security and confidentiality of the sensitive information of our clients.

To learn more about our customized pre-employment background check services, contact us today.

Know Before You Hire

About the Author
Matthew J. Rodgers

Matthew J. Rodgers

Matthew J. Rodgers is a highly accomplished business executive with over 30 years of experience providing strategic vision and leadership to companies ranging from the fortune 500 to iprospectcheck, a company which he co-founded over a decade ago. Matthew is a valued consultant who is dedicated to helping companies create and implement efficient, cost effective and compliant employment screening programs. Matt has been a member of the Professional Background Screeners Association since 2009 . When not focused on iprospectcheck, he can be found spending time with his family, fly fishing, or occasionally running the wild rivers of the American west. A lifetime member of American Whitewater, Matt is passionate about protecting and restoring America’s whitewater rivers.