While the background screening industry is yet to mature fully in this region, Edward Hickey, Hireright’s MD Asia Pacific, lists out dos and dont’s for companies to make the process seamless, and cut time-to-hire.

While previously mostly Fortune 500 and international MNCs conducted background screening in Asia Pacific, we have seen greater uptake amongst local firms in recent years.

This could be partly due to the rise in cases where candidates had qualifications bought from diploma mills, or had lied about or completely forged their qualifications.

Additionally, organisations here are beginning to realise that background screening helps mitigate risk internally and ultimately, can help prevent corporate fraud and reputational damage.

That being said, the background screening industry is still far more mature in the United States, where most companies are familiar with the process and have implemented it internally.

Additionally, several government organisations, such as the Federal Aviation Administration, Securities and Exchange Commission and Department of Transportation, require companies in related industries to conduct screening.

This is partly true is Asia as well, where government authorities such as the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority require certain financial roles to be screened for.

As a result, background screening is common in the financial services industry here.

However, generally, employment screening is a newer concept in this region and for that reason, there’s a lack of understanding as to what the background screening process entails.

I see two clear trends emerging in this region. Firstly, we see an increased use of HR technology and a shift to mobile technology.

This capability is especially critical for the many tech-savvy candidates in Asia who use mobile as their primary device.

Government authorities such as the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority require certain financial roles to be screened for.

Secondly, we envision increased emphasis on the candidate experience, which can help an organisation differentiate itself from its competitors.

Why screening must be sacred

Screening best practice should take a risk-based approach regardless of employment status. Contractual and part-time staff may not be employed on a permanent basis but they have the same access to the office premises, assets and sensitive information, hence posing a significant risk.

A HireRight report in the United Kingdom found only one in three companies always independently verify the true background of new CEOs.

This is especially alarming as it’s the top management usually represent the company publicly.

A prominent example would be Scott Thompson, former CEO of Yahoo, who was found to have forged his computer science degree on his resume.

Not only did this affect Yahoo’s reputation but also would have cost them the money spent on bringing him onboard and subsequently looking for a new CEO.

According to a survey by industry association SHRM, a bad hire can cost a company almost five times the CEO’s salary.

How you can make the process seamless

It’s important to inform and educate candidates about the background screening process and why they have to do it.

The more cooperative the candidates are and the faster they supply the information needed, the faster agencies can conduct the check.

We’ve found that in some companies, there are various stakeholders involved, including the procurement team, staff who administer the programme or liaise with candidates.

A lack of communication between the various departments can cause confusion and prolong the screening process.

Hence, it is important for organisations to ensure proper and clear internal communication, to get various stakeholders on the same page.

Part-time staff may not be employed on a permanent basis but they have the same access to the office premises, hence posing a significant risk.

Partnering with a background screening specialist can also help speed up the process and reduce time-to-hire, as they would have technology in place to make the process more efficient and seamless.

Background screening checklist


  • Get the candidate’s consent, informing them about the background screening process.
  • Draft a screening policy for the firm, detailing the checks needed according to roles.
  • Ensure compliance with relevant rules and regulations.
  • Screen all employees including part-time or contract staff who have access to office facilities.
  • The types of checks done should depend on the role and seniority of the person.


  • Social media profiles should not be used as a gauge of the candidate’s capability and suitability.
  • Do not immediately discount the candidates if there are adverse findings during a check. Find out if there is a good reason behind it (human error?).
  • The more senior the role is, the more detrimental the effects of a bad hire, especially since the fallout can go public.
  • Don’t focus only on negative findings. A background check can help locate positive aspects of candidates which can help in the recruitment selection process.
  • It is useful to seek expert advice as a background screening specialist will have the legal and compliance knowledge to ensure your organisation abides by the relevant rules.

Image: Shutterstock

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