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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • Best for Electronic Screening Services is best for businesses, institutes of higher education and nonprofit organizations.