Is Background Screening ready for AI?


There’s plenty of online discussion these days regarding the merits of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its use in background screening services and apps. Using predictive analysis, AI allows computers and other machines to learn through their surroundings to take on human tasks in a more productive manner. It also is hyped as being able to remove emotions and bias from decision-making. Not too long ago it was the stuff of science fiction.

Someday, but not today

AI today is making great strides in a number of areas. But let’s make the case that professional background screening is not yet ready for prime AI time. After all, much of what we do at Risk Assessment Group involves the search of past records through law enforcement agencies and the courts. Consider that there are 3,200 county courts in the United States. Virtually none of them use the same reporting system. Of those 3,200, only about 500 use some type of sophisticated software recording system. The rest? Mostly paper documentation.

Heck, even the most technically sound police departments in the country issue citations…you guessed it…on paper. And yes, we are still opening mail and reviewing paper documents that we dutifully file away. Yes, courts and police departments do keep electronic files. Files that were logged and documented by humans. How much was lost in translation? How much of the transponder’s bias went into that report?

Additionally, how far is too far? AI is promoted to do incredibly deep dives into people’s backgrounds. Does the speeding ticket your applicant picked up in high school matter? And, companies’ early use of AI in the hiring process has been messy. A Reuters story published last October talked of the discovery at Amazon that its hiring algorithm was strongly biased against women.

AI’s place in background screening

So yes, AI is wonderful when it comes to discussing things with Alexa, operating autonomous vehicles or making it easier to text by learning our habits. But when it comes to doing business with a company that is researching your next hire, take into account all that a firm can deliver. Yes, one day, AI will be a valid and valued tool for all consumer rating agencies. But for today, we need to take a step back and consider the overall quality – and quantity -- of the information being delivered to you so you can make the right choice.

At Risk Assessment Group, we understand how intensive and time-consuming a search can be for new hires. But that search also comes with tremendous risk to you and your company – and on many levels from legal issues to employee unrest. There are so many problems that can have major impacts on your workforce and your company. Employers have tremendous barriers to overcome throughout the hiring process.  Recognizing this and using the right tools of a long-standing, professional background check company can help you move quickly and carefully down the path toward a new hire.

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