How to Choose the Best Background Screening Company

Tammy Cohen, PHR, SHRM-CP

November 20 2023

Many factors go into choosing the right background check vendor. Like any business partnership, you need to know what you want and ask the right questions. Going into your research with a background check vendor checklist is one great way to make an informed decision.

Pulling from our three decades of experience, we’ve put together a guide. This will help you understand the standards that the best background screening vendors follow. Read on to have your top background screening questions answered.

Make Your Perfect Background Check Companies Checklist

When choosing the right background check service, a host of capabilities and benefits factor in. Before you begin to choose your top background screening companies, take some time to consider what qualities matter most to you. From there, you’ll have a picture to compare to when checking out background check sites, chatting with sales representatives, and evaluating vendors.

Once you’ve determined your needs and compiled available background check companies, you may be left with a long list of candidates. You can narrow the list by prioritizing the factors that are most important to your company. Common considerations when comparing criminal background check vendors include cost, fees, experience, customer support, screening services, and technology.


How much does a background check cost?

Cost will always be a factor, regardless of the type of vendor you’re looking for. You probably have a narrow budget for selecting a new background screening vendor. Many potential partners will fall in a similar range if they model their pricing on market value. Though you need to remain within your budget for the year, the lowest cost vendor isn’t always the right choice. Low-cost may mean low quality. Be sure to ask about their methods for background searches, the level of quality assurance they promise to ensure the accuracy of their results, and the type and availability of customer service you can expect.


Are there start-up or implementation fees?

Not all employment background screening companies are created equal. As you come up with background screening questions to ask your vendor, consider how the implementation of your account will be handled. 

Should you expect additional start-up fees from your chosen background verification vendor? How much support does the screening company offer during implementation? Ask questions about the fees background screening companies charge for bringing you on as a client. Ask for specific details about onboarding costs, ATS/HCM integration fees, training fees, mandatory fees, and whether you’ll need increased liability insurance.


Is this an experienced & professional background check company?

This is a major differentiator in the world of pre-employment screenings today. As start-ups flood the market, be sure to ask the right background check questions to gauge experience levels, like… 

  • Is this background check company accredited by the PBSA?
  • Is their staff FCRA-certified?
  • Do they outsource any portion of their domestic searches to international partners?
  • What do their quality assurance protocols look like?
  • How does the background check vendor access court records?
  • Do they rely entirely on databases or automated search results for their criminal record checks?
  • If so, how do they ensure the accuracy of the results, particularly when it comes to identifiers?

Start-ups are everywhere and may offer discounted screening services as they try to break into the market, but that doesn’t mean they’re serving up quality. It also doesn’t mean they can handle your business if you’re doing a lot of hiring. Established, professional background screening companies will be able to onboard you quickly, and they will scale with you as you grow. 

Check the experience of a potential background check vendor before beginning a relationship. A vendor’s time in the world of pre-employment background checks impacts how they hold up to your expectations and whether they provide quality returns.


How is their customer support?

Customer support is the backbone of any vendor relationship. A partnership with a background screening vendor is no different. The best background screening companies will have outstanding customer support for both you and your candidates. 

Ask for specifics:

  • Will you have a single dedicated representative, or will your account be picked up by whoever is working the phone that day?
  • Does your client representative focus entirely on supporting your account, or do they also run the background checks?
  • Is customer support managed in-house, or is it outsourced to an international call center?
  • When and where is customer support available to you?
  • What does escalation look like in the event of a problem, and what are their adverse action procedures?
  • How is applicant support managed?
  • When you have a candidate who needs to start tomorrow, what kind of service can you expect?

Try to determine beforehand how much support you may need, and ask the background check vendor if they can meet your expectations. It’s important to know whether background check companies outsource any part of their operations. This plays a role in how well you work together and the speed at which you can solve problems and get results.


How do they keep turnaround times low?

This is one question on your background check vendor checklist that will help you the most to choose the best background check company. Background check turnaround times – the time it takes to receive results after submitting a criminal background check request – are at the top of the list for most employers when evaluating background screening companies.

Go further than asking what a possible background screening vendor’s turnaround times are. With today’s technology, everyone should be quoting you under three days on average, and most will tell you just over one day for most results.

Instead, ask how they achieve these results. This will tell you more. Is the background check vendor’s turnaround times low because they’re reporting raw, unvetted results? Or are they low because they have the right technology and processes to deliver quick but accurate background check reports?


What other screening services and products are offered?

You may want to add background screening services or products as your business evolves. Top background screening vendors should have a suite of the basic solutions needed. To differentiate, ask about their full list of existing employment screening services and what is on their roadmap for the future. Ask if they can screen every type of employee.

If a background check vendor isn’t likely to offer innovation or additional services in the future, you may have to split your needs between vendors or find someone who can. It’s also important to note whether a screening company offers too many services or products unrelated to what you need. This background check vendor may be splitting its focus between too many business goals to effectively serve you.

5 Tips for Finding the Best Background Screening Vendor

Now that you know the right questions to add to your background check vendor checklist, what are the next steps? Before you go into building your list of top background screening companies, it’s important to know who to talk to so you don’t waste time searching too far. Here are some tips that may help.


Ask the opinion of key decision-makers from different areas of your business.

Background screening isn’t just a job for hiring managers anymore. Draw from the varied perspectives of a few different people. Compile the details of what your business expects to get from a background check vendor relationship and rank them by priority.


Solicit feedback from friends or peers at other companies.

Almost every company is doing some level of pre-employment background checks now, and many have kicked it up a notch to include continuous monitoring or post-employment screening. Ask your colleagues at other companies what screening company they use and who they’ve worked with in the past. Your peers can give you the low-down on a background check vendor’s strengths and weaknesses.


Talk to the vendors you already have.

Again, almost everyone is conducting background screening on their employees. If you have a business partner who can refer you to their screening company, you may be able to get a deal.


Do your research.

We’ve already mentioned this above, but it bears repeating: have a list of questions or requirements that matter most to you. Having this will help you guide the conversation, rather than allowing a salesperson to only address their company’s strengths. Know what matters to you so you can ask the right background check questions from the start.


Get a background check.

Some companies look great on paper, but they disappoint you later. A background check vendor who wants to build a lasting partnership will offer you a test of their screening services.

Don’t Search Too Far

Are you looking for a new background screening vendor? Add InfoMart to your list. With over 30 years of experience, our FCRA-certified staff and innovative technology delivers quality background checks quickly. We also offer a background screening audit service that helps you evaluate your current screening partner.

If you’re ready to chat with an InfoMart sales rep, we are ready to answer your questions anytime.

I would love to hear from you and connect; add me on LinkedIn to keep in touch.

The Ultimate Checklist for Integrating Background Checks & Existing HR Tech

Want to make changes to your background screening integration? Thinking about integrating your ATS and background checks for the first time?

This simple guide puts you on the path. Learn what questions to ask during each phase of implementation and discover the answers you need from your team and your vendor before getting started.

About Tammy Cohen

Tammy Cohen, an industry pioneer and expert in identity and employment screening, founded InfoMart 30 years ago. Deemed the “Queen of Screen,” she’s been a force behind industry-leading innovations. She was most recently the first-to-market with a fully compliant sanctions search, as well as a suite of identity services that modernizes talent onboarding. Tammy revolutionized the screening industry when she stepped into the field, developing the first client-facing application and a due diligence criminal search that has since become standard for all background screening companies. Cohen has received national awards and honors for her business and civic involvement, including Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Top 25 Women-Owned Firms in Atlanta, Enterprising Women Magazine’s Enterprising Women of the Year award, the YWCA of Northwest Georgia’s Kathryn Woods Racial Justice Award, and a commendation in the 152nd Congressional Record. To learn more about Tammy, visit

About InfoMart

InfoMart has been revolutionizing the global background and identity screening industry for 30 years, providing businesses the information they need to make informed hiring decisions. They develop innovative technology that modernizes talent onboarding, including a first-to-market biometric identity authentication application and a verified sanctions search. The WBENC-certified company is a founding member of the Professional Background Screening Association, and they have achieved PBSA accreditation in recognition of their consistent business practices and commitment to compliance with the FCRA. The company is dedicated to customer service, speed, and accuracy, and it has been recognized for its success, workplace culture, and corporate citizenship with over 45 industry awards. To Get the Whole Story on InfoMart, please visit, follow @InfoMartUSA, or call (770) 984-2727.

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