85% of UK organisations report candidates failing background checks

Originally published at HRreview by Amelia Brand

A staggering 85 percent of employers across the United Kingdom are experiencing candidates failing background checks, according to a recent study by Zinc, a leading background check provider.

This finding jumps to an even more concerning 97 percent among companies hiring over 1,000 candidates annually, exacerbating existing skill gaps and hindering the swift and effective fulfilment of roles in an increasingly uncertain hiring market.

The scale of businesses appears to directly correlate with the likelihood of candidate failures due to issues such as fraud, non-disclosure, and conflicts of interest.

Zinc’s Industry Insights report reveals that 97 percent of companies recruiting over 1,000 employees annually reported encountering candidate failures. Among those hiring more than 500 people, the figure stood at 83 percent.

Small and medium-sized organisations also faced challenges, with 50 percent and 86 percent reporting background check failures, respectively.

Background checks: Inadequate screening practices

For the 15 percent of organisations that did not report any candidate failures, the issue was attributed to inadequate screening practices. These organisations were found to be 50 percent less likely to express confidence in their background checking process and 46 percent less likely to have automated it, increasing the risk of overlooking potential issues.

Sectors with the highest background check failure rates include publishing (35%), logistics (32%), and telecommunications (29%). The unique challenges faced by these industries, such as reliance on freelance or gig work and the verification of international credentials for global networks, contribute significantly to the difficulties in thoroughly vetting candidates.

Luke Shipley, CEO and co-founder of Zinc, expressed concern over the impact on employers, stating, “Candidates falling at the background checking hurdle undermines both the quality and speed of the hiring process, placing HR teams at risk of compromising diligence in the interest of expediency.”

Shipley emphasises the importance of improving the candidate experience and leveraging automation in the hiring process to alleviate the burden on HR teams. “Automating sections of the hiring process takes the burden off HR teams and speeds things up for candidates, ensuring a smoother recruitment process,” he added.

Accelerate your hiring practice

Despite the overwhelming consensus among HR leaders that hiring quickly is essential (71%), only 9 percent of companies can complete background checks within a week. For larger businesses employing over 501 people, the majority take as long as a month to complete the process.

Zinc’s study suggests that accelerating the entire hiring process, from interviewing to onboarding, can mitigate delays caused by verification issues and improve an employer’s reputation. However, the need for speed should be balanced with attention to detail to avoid negative impacts on an employer’s image.

The study also highlights the growing importance of rechecking employees annually (51%), particularly with the rise of remote work, as it has become easier for employers to mislead HR during the screening process. Regular and accurate reviews of employees are deemed imperative to ensure companies are not misled and that the hiring process remains effective in the face of evolving work trends.