Companies frequently use an employment screening before officially offering any job candidates a job. Employers can check a range of things, including criminal history, driving records and cognitive abilities. Drug tests are also commonly administered for both candidates and employees.

Which employee screening services to use will depend on your company and the specific position you are hiring. To remain complaint with state and federal employment laws, make sure you choose a reputable company and use any information gained by the service in a professional way.

Top 9 Most Reviewed Employment Screening Services

Employment Screening Resources is a nationwide employee screening company based near San Francisco, CA. Their extensive range of services include international screening, drug testing and volunteer screening for non-profits.
Founded in 1996, IntelliCorp is a national provider of employment screening solutions in a wide variety of industries. They offer three packages and have additional add-on options for a customized screening experience.

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What features matter most?

Services offered

Before you decide which employment screening company to use, you need to figure out which services you need. These will vary based on your company and the unique job position. Employees in manufacturing, for instance, often take routine drug tests for safety reasons, while government employees may have their litigation records checked.

  • Drug testing: Clinics that only administer drug tests might be more efficient at conducting drug tests and reporting results. They also might have a wider range of substances they can test for and tests they can utilize for a more complete, comprehensive drug test for candidates and employees.
  • Background checks: Many companies offer background checks that can be administered and accessed online through a candidate portal. These companies work well for businesses that don’t need drug testing.
  • Full employment screening suite: Some companies offer a full suite of services, including background checks, drug testing and even HR-related services. These companies work well for small and large businesses and organizations with needs outside of drug testing and background checks.
  • I-9 compliance: The form I-9 is the basic requirement to verify work authorization. All employers must file a form I-9 for all of their employees or risk paying fines and/or imprisonment. Many employment screening companies offer I-9 compliance services so businesses don’t need to worry about handling this step during the hiring process and can instead outsource it to the screening company.

Turnaround time

One of the most important aspects of a background check is how quickly you can expect results. However, quick turnaround times don’t always produce the most accurate results. More thorough background checks can take longer, and time can be added for small errors such as making mistakes when initially filing the forms.

  • Background checks: On average, expect it to take between three days and one week to receive results from a thorough background check. It’s relatively common for background checks to be held up by schools or employers who take a long time to get the requested information to the background check agency. Candidates with common names can also take awhile to see results, since the agency will need to cross check and review the records to make sure they have the right person’s information.
  • Drug tests: In general, drug test results take less time than background checks. Negative results can be reported in under 24 hours. Positive results take longer to process since they can require additional testing for accuracy. Generally, positive results are reported back within one week, but that can vary depending on the situation and the facility.


How much to pay for employment screening services is a major factor for a lot of companies. It’s important to consider which services you really need before you decide on a screening company to use. You don’t want to end up paying for a package that includes services you will never use. Companies use a few different types of pricing structures for clients.

  • Pay-per-use: Small businesses may want to use a service that only charges on a per-use basis. This means you request and pay for services as you need them, rather than paying for a package or a set of services. You can generally adjust your payment structure as your company grows and your needs change.
  • Pay-per-package: Employers who want to do more than just a basic background check can choose from a pre-set or customized package from many employment screening companies. Simply call to put together a customized package to make sure you get all the services you need without paying for any services that you won’t use.
  • Large volume: Some organizations, including colleges and universities, need a high volume of background checks performed routinely. These places will want to find a screening company that will offer a competitive rate for large volumes.


In order to be effective and not deter candidates from fulfilling the full hiring process, your employment screening needs to be accessible. If it isn’t easy and quick to use, you may risk losing a quality candidate to another company.

  • Online background checks: Online portals make background checks easy for you and your candidates. They will be responsible for inputting their personal information, which provides them with an additional layer of security. Many companies make requesting a background check as simple as filling out a form online, and employees are granted access to their background reports as soon as they are complete.
  • Local drug testing facilities: It’s important to work with drug testing facilities who are near your location and have extended hours for candidates to visit, including early mornings, evenings and weekends. Check ahead to see if they accept walk-in visits or if the candidate needs to make an appointment ahead of time.
  • International hiring: If you regularly hire people from outside the United States, it’s important for you to work with an employment screening company that has offices worldwide. Many companies work with drug testing facilities around the world to offer the same convenience and accessibility to international candidates as they would receive if they lived in the United States. Background checks that can be applied for online are another benefit for international/multinational companies.

Reading the reports

The employment screening company will take care of verifying records and performing background checks, but it’s up to you as the employer to be able to properly assess the report. Many companies have succeeded in producing comprehensive background check reports that are easy to read and understand.

  • Training: You should receive some training from your employment screening provider on what information will be researched and how it will be presented in the report. Training might be for one or several people, depending on who is going to be responsible for reading and interpreting reports.
  • Color-coded: Many companies use a color-coding system within their reports to make it even easier for employers to find relevant information in a short amount of time. How the specific color-coding works on your reports should be discussed during training.
  • Truncated personal information: In an effort to maintain candidates’ privacy, many companies truncate personal information that isn’t relevant for the report. This is one way to keep candidates and employees safe while still performing a thorough background check investigation.
  • Medical Review Officer (MRO): Drug test results should be explained by a qualified MRO to ensure there is no confusion about the reports and that the employer fully understands whether a test result is positive or negative.

Potential legal ramifications

Employment screening can be a useful tool to keep your workplace safe by choosing candidates who do not have a criminal history or other negative factors that could negatively impact your work environment. However, it is essential that all employers understand the laws in place to protect candidates and employees so they don’t wind up facing legal ramifications for their employment screening.

  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC): The EEOC enforces laws to protect candidates and employees from discrimination based on age, gender, race, disability, country of origin and/or genetic information. What this means for employers is that you must treat all candidates and employees the same. You cannot pick and choose who should get screening based only on one or more of the above factors.
  • Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA): The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforces the FCRA, which mandates that you tell candidates vital information before going through with a credit and/or background check as part of their application process. You must inform candidates in writing (not on a job application) of the possibility that the information found through the check may influence your hiring decision. You also must clearly notify the candidate of his right to a description of an investigative report. Finally, the candidate must give written permission before you conduct a background and/or credit check.

What are different types of employment screening services?

Background check

Background checks can be as simple or complex as an employer wants. Things that can be reported in background checks include driving records, state and federal criminal records, sex offender records, fingerprint scan, education records, employment records, litigation records, citizen or immigrant status, financial information and military records. Many companies give you the option to choose which services you want included in the background check.

Drug test

Drug testing is commonly done for job candidates as well as employees. Standard drug tests check for five to 10 commonly used drugs based on a urine sample. More extensive drug tests are available that check for more drugs and that can use other samples, including hair, for a more thorough and reliable drug test.

Investigative report

An investigative report is based on personal interviews that concern a person’s character, general reputation, personal characteristics and lifestyle. The person being investigated must approve the investigation by giving written permission.

Health screening

Many industries and positions require candidates to have a minimum level of health. Health screening services can include physical and mental wellness, with services such as x-rays, cognitive aptitude testing, EKGs, vaccinations and more.

Who's it for?


Businesses of all sizes can benefit from performing employment screening before making a hiring decision. What they choose to screen specifically will vary from business to business. A standard background check and drug test are fairly common among American businesses.

Multinational businesses

Multinational businesses will need to work with an employment screening company that has offices and facilities overseas to streamline the process of drug testing and running a background check. They might also want the test to be conducted in another language.

Non-profit organizations

Many non-profit organizations conduct standard background checks and drug tests for volunteers, particularly when volunteers are working around children. These volunteers might have more extensive background checks performed that include checking the sex offenders registry, criminal history, drug tests and/or other relevant information.


Individuals who are looking for a job or are volunteering can run their own background checks. This allows them to see exactly what employers will see and gives them time to refute errors and fix mistakes. It also gives them time to consider how they will answer or explain their record if something that could be concerning for an employer shows up on their background check.


Many institutes of higher education conduct background checks on their students in an effort to keep their campuses more secure. These institutions will want to work with a screening company that can handle a large volume of background checks.

Company reviews

  • Insperity

    Insperity has been making life easier for business owners since 1986. Today it has 60 offices around the United States and is headquartered in Kingwood, Texas. Services offered by Insperity include full-service HR, attendance management and employment screening.

    • Full service HR and employee management: In addition to handling employment screening, Insperity can handle all of your Human Resources needs, including payroll, attendance management, health insurance and benefits and dedicated HR support. Full service HR management is available for companies who have five to 5,000 employees.
    • Background screening: Insperity has several background screening options for companies to choose from, including social security number trace, criminal check, driving records, employment and education verification, credential verification and reference verification.
    • Drug testing: Insperity makes it easy to plan and administer drug tests for candidates. Their drug testing services include setting up service with clinics in proximity to your preferred ZIP code, electronic scheduling, reviewing results with a Medical Review Officer and posting results in a secure online location for company review.
    • Fast turn-around: You can expect results within two to three days, making it easy for you to make an informed decision about a candidate soon after they have taken a drug test or submitted their information for background screening.
    • Straightforward pricing: Insperity discloses all of their pricing information up front so companies are never surprised by unexpected fees. Pricing is all-inclusive and doesn’t require a monthly, up-front or registration fee.
    • Best for Insperity is best for small and large businesses.

  • Employment Screening Resources

    Founded in 1997, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) is a nationwide background screening firm located in the San Francisco, CA, area. ESR is one of only a few firms accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners. Screening services include drug testing, verification of references, social security number trace, driving records, civil records and more.

    • Best for Small and large businesses, particularly those that hire international candidates.
  • SterlingBackcheck

    Formerly Sterling Infosystems, SterlingBackCheck was founded in 1975. Today it serves over 20,000 customers worldwide with offices in the United States, Canada, the U.K., India and the Philippines. SterlingBackCheck’s services include pre-employment criminal records, drug screening and credit reports, along with post-hire drug testing, audits and monitoring.

    • Webinars: Learn more about human resource issues that can affect your business or industry with SterlingBackCheck’s extensive offering of Webinars. Register for free online. Many webinars are approved for HRCI and/or SHRM credit hours.
    • Background checks by industry: Background check needs vary by industry, and SterlingBackCheck understands these needs. They will help you figure out what you need for your industry and make sure your background checks are done as efficiently as possible.
    • Complete Criminal Locator: SterlingBackCheck’s Complete Criminal Locator is exclusive to their company. It searches up to 16 percent more sources for information about each individual than traditional background checks, making it a more comprehensive and thorough background check than other companies can provide.
    • Resources: SterlingBackCheck has an extensive library of resources, including e-books and white papers written by industry experts to help companies keep up with new regulations and policies along with emerging trends and issues that are important for hiring managers to understand.
    • International: SterlingBackCheck has offices worldwide and conducts background checks in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific. They are also capable of designing comprehensive pre-employment screening programs that are consistent across entire multinational organizations.
    • Best for SterlingBackCheck is best for businesses and nonprofit organizations.

  • GoodHire

    GoodHire is a US based employment screening company with services for businesses and individuals in industries across the board. Their customized services help employers make educated hiring decisions while protecting the privacy and secure information of candidates. Candidates are always treated respectfully, and their background checks are administered efficiently.

    • Customizable: Employers have the option to choose from one of several predefined screening packages, or they can create their own customized background check. You can adjust your screening process as your business and its needs change.
    • TrueMe for job candidates: Job candidates can stay a step ahead of potential employers by completing their own TrueMe background checks with GoodHire. Once your background check is complete, you will be sent a secure URL that can be posted directly on your resume, applications, social media profiles and/or job boards. GoodHire ensures that only verified employers can request access to your link, and you have the final say in granting access, keeping your information secure.
    • Challenge errors: TrueMe reports allow individuals to add comments for previous behavior. They also have built-in tools that allow individuals to fix mistakes before they head to an interview and have an employer run a background check.
    • Up-front pricing: Pricing  for pay-per-check is upfront and available on their website, making it easy for employers to decide which packages and options to choose based on their cost. View sample results for every package so you know what to expect. For high volume and customized needs, simply fill out a form online to receive a customized quote.
    • HR tech integration: GoodHire has teamed up with leading HR tech companies to deliver integrated employment screening on your timeline. If your HR firm isn’t currently integrated with GoodHire, simply let them know.
    • Best for GoodHire is best for businesses and individuals.

  • Pre-employ

    Pre-employ has several pre-employment services for businesses, including background checks, I-9 compliance, drug testing and employment verifications. Founded in 1994 and headquartered in North Carolina, Pre-employ focuses on customer service and quick turnarounds for screening to make the hiring process more efficient.

    • Dedicated account manager: Every Pre-employ customer is assigned an account manager to speak with whenever they have questions or concerns. The manager monitors account activity, allowing them to proactively eliminate or take care of issues. The process of working with a dedicated account manager speeds up the background check process for employers and candidates.
    • Client portal: The client portal delivers dedicated customer service to applicants and customers. Single-page ordering makes it easier and faster to get background checks, and the drug testing portal offers real-time maps and facility details to make scheduling drug tests a breeze.
    • Paperless I-9 compliance management: Your business or organization can maintain I-9 compliance using the same client portal that you use for background checks and drug tests. Pre-employ accurately completes and securely stores these electronic I-9 forms for a simplified process in the event of a federal audit. The I-9 compliance program is integrated with the I-9 verification program, eliminating the risk of fines or prosecution and speeding up the process generally.
    • MyEmployment: This optional service from Pre-employ helps employers manage verifications of their previous and current employees, meaning you no longer need to perform employment verifications on your own. This keeps your employees’ information more secure, since it is less likely to be obtained by third parties. As an added bonus, you receive a commission from Pre-employ any time pre-approved verifiers pay for access to your employee information.
    • Show me how wizard: The Pre-employ system is generally easy to use and intuitive. However, the show me how wizard is always available to walk you through steps when you need additional help or guidance.
    • Best for Pre-employ is best for businesses.

  • IntelliCorp

    IntelliCorp was founded in 1996 and is a national provider of employment screening solutions, including background checks and drug testing. As an accredited member of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), IntelliCorp offers screening solutions for businesses and nonprofit organizations.

    • Best for IntelliCorp is best for businesses and nonprofit organizations.
  • HireRight

    Headquartered in Irvine, CA, HireRight specializes in working with organizations and companies of all sizes to implement, manage and control their background screening programs. They work with organizations nationally and internationally to increase efficiency in the screening process.

    • 150 options: HireRight has over 150 unique background check service options, making it easy for you to put together the perfect customized background check for your organization or business.
    • Fast turnaround times: HireRight’s advanced technology translates to fast turnaround times, making it more efficient for candidates to get hired and for employers to make educated hiring decisions.
    • Global reach: HireRight has massive global reach, with screening in 240 countries and territories. Additionally, applicants are supported in 20 languages, making HireRight an ideal choice for any multinational company or organization.
    • Resources: HireRight’s website includes in-depth resources for employers, including a glossary of screening terms, industry fast facts, white papers, webinars, podcasts and a library dedicated to employment law. All resources are free and accessible to site visitors.
    • Free copy of report and free dispute investigation: All candidates who have previously applied for a background check with HireRight are eligible for a free report. If you find any disputes on your report, you can submit your dispute and HireRight will start an investigation at no cost to you. The dispute investigation generally takes around 30 days to fulfill.
    • Best for HireRight is best for businesses, including multinational businesses.

  • Corporate Screening Services

    Founded in 1987, Corporate Screening Services, Inc. is based on Cleveland, Ohio and has an additional branch in Tampa, FL. They provide global background screening and HRO related solutions. Their services include background checks, drug screening, health exams, electronic I-9 filing and electronic fingerprint services.

    • Drug and health screening: In addition to standard drug screening, Corporate Screening Services offers health screening to ensure candidates have the right physical capacity to meet the requirements of the position. Their occupational health screening options include workplace testing and clinical lab work, audiograms, urinalysis, pulmonary function test, TB test, chest X-ray, EKG, general vaccinations and more.
    • Financial and health industry specialization: Corporate Screening Services has specialized background checks for candidates in the financial and health industries. These checks take into account every aspect of employee screening necessary to meet the demands and criteria for jobs in these fields.
    • Resource center: Corporate Screening Services has an online resource center with videos, white papers, news and archives to answer all of your important employee screening related questions.  These resources are free and accessible to all site visitors.
    • International screening and verification: Corporate Screening Services offers international screening and verification services for over 200 countries to streamline the international screening process and make the hiring process for multinational companies more efficient.
    • Range of products: Clients can choose which screening services they want to use for their candidates from a wide range of products, including criminal record searches, drug and health testing, employment/reference verification after interviews and public record searches. Sign up for individual products or put together a customized package, depending on your need.
    • Best for Corporate Screening Services is best for businesses who need individual screening products.

  • Employment Screening Services

    Employment Screening Services (ESS) combines over 15 years of industry experience with state-of-the-art technology to deliver solutions with fast and accurate results.Their broad range of services include different types of background checks, employment and education verifications, social security reports and drug testing. Services can be managed individually or customized as a package.

    • Additional screenings option: Certain industries and/or positions may require additional screening, which is an option with ESS. Set up additional screening one-time or include it as part of your customized package.
    • International drug testing locations: ESS has drug testing locations in all 50 states along with internationally in Mexico, Guam, Canada and Puerto Rico. This makes it easy for multinational companies and national companies hiring international employees to perform and collect drug tests.
    • Additional drug testing methods and panels: ESS can test more than just the standard five to 10 drugs that are tested with traditional drug testing. Additional drugs that ESS can test for include Hydrocodone, Oxymorphone, Hydromorphone, Oxycontin, MDMA and bath salts. Additionally, you can opt for alternative testing methods such as hair, instant testing and breath alcohol for a more comprehensive drug test and results.
    • U-screen for students: U-screen empowers students to keep track of their health and employment records. It is an online paperless system that allows students to manage their own immunization and other documents. Colleges and universities can sign up to give students access to this and allow students to track and monitor their documents from their initial enrollment through graduation.
    • SwiftHire: Make it easy for employee and volunteer candidates to submit their own screening online so you don’t need to worry about additional paperwork or security issues. Customize email greetings and invitations with your logo, and set up online payments.
    • Best for Electronic Screening Services is best for businesses, institutes of higher education and nonprofit organizations.