America Back to Work Ep 3: William Tincup

Since the pandemic, we’ve opened up the talent base to the world—which is great in so many ways. However, it also poses extra challenges—like the need for extra security by way of background checks, identify verification, and periodic checks throughout employment. 

To that end, it’s no longer just about what HR does pre-employment—it’s what you do after to set yourself up for success as a business and an HR leader. After all, with the technology we have today, it’s no longer acceptable to claim plausible deniability if you hire a problematic employee. 

In this week’s episode of America Back to Work, William Tincup, president and editor-at-large of Recruiting Daily, speaks with our host Arnette Heintze about the state of employment verification today—including what verification you should prioritize and when, and even giving felons second chances.

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About America Back to Work

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S2Verify is one of the leading, privately held, pre-employment background screening companies in the United States. 

Arnette Heintze is co-founder and chief strategy officer at S2Verify. Before establishing S2Verify, Arnette spent more than three decades working at the highest levels of federal, state, and local law enforcement. 

He served more than 20 years in the United States Secret Service as a special agent and senior executive where he planned, designed, and implemented security strategies to protect U.S. Presidents, world leaders, events of national significance, and our nation’s most sensitive assets, including financial infrastructure.  

After retiring from the Secret Service, Arnette focused on building the growth and performance of innovative start-ups and SMBs. In 2004, he established Hillard Heintze, a globally recognized strategic security risk management and investigations firm.

In 2009, along with Bill Whitford and Jim Zimbardi, Arnette established S2 Verify with an approach and methodology that delivers fast, accurate, compliant, and affordable background screening insights crucial to better managing insider risks, threats, and vulnerabilities.  

The State of Employment Verification Today Transcript

Arnette Heintze

Welcome to America Back to Work, brought to you by S2Verify where our purpose is to help you hire with confidence and manage insider risk. I’m your host, Arnett Heinz. Please allow me to introduce our guest today, William Tincup. William, it’s really a privilege to have you join us today and we’ve had a chance to catch up here a little bit, uh, before, uh, recording our, our session today. And, uh, I, you know, I noticed behind you is just a tremendous amount of art, so I’m really impressed with that. You, would you care to share some of that? Because I know you probably have done all of it.

William Tincup

I did. These are all, these are, this is all my work and, uh, my kids found my art. I, you know, uh, I’ve been paying since I was young, probably nine, 10 years old. And, uh, I had all of its shrunk wrap and put up in my attic. And one of my, my youngest son found one of ’em and undid the shrunk wrap. Asked my wife about it, and, uh, then they read it. They decided to put it all up in my office. And that was before Covid.

Arnette Heintze

Well, good for him because it looks beautiful up there. Well, thank you. And, uh, I’m glad we got to touch on that. But, you know, today we’re here to talk about, you know, your industry, specifically the HR and talent acquisition industry. And, uh, before we get underway with that, I’d like for you to share with the audience a little bit about, about your background, if you don’t mind. Sure,

William Tincup

Sure. Um, you know, uh, our non-traditional hr, uh, a person that cares about both recruiting and hr, I kind of came up through marketing. So I have a BA in art history and Ma and American did study as an MBA and entrepreneurship and marketing. But really I came up through agency recruiting, um, excuse me, agency marketing, so an ad agency, PR agency, et cetera, and fell in love with hr. So I actually sold my equity to, in the agency so that I could focus more on HR and recruiting because you know, when you, when you when you get to know hr, you find out that they know all the dark crevices of an organization. They know the sexual harassment claims, they know the pay at equity, they know everything that’s dark. Yes. But yet, when you meet ’em and talk to ’em, they’re hopeful. There’s a hope to ’em. There’s a glass, you know, um, half full approach to them that they’re optimistic about talent, they’re optimistic about their employees or optimistic, even though they know the darkness, they’re so optimistic. And so I fell in love with that,

Arnette Heintze

You know, that’s wonderful because, you know, as, as a business, a previous business owner and the, the thing that drives any company is the people. It is all about the people. How can you get the best of your team and give them an environment for them to excel? So HR teams by, by nature are, are, it’s great to hear you say that. It’s nice to see them positive and supportive of the team.

William Tincup

A hundred percent. And I think, you know, to your point about, uh, finding out where people, you know, thrive, it’s, it’s solving, you know, if, if you go back to high school trigonometry, you’re, you’re solving for something where that’s moving. And the pandemic has taught us a bunch of lessons that sped up a lot of things in, in, you know, it was just some silver linings out of that tragedy is, you know, remote work and hybrid and flexibility and understanding that some of these knowledge working jobs don’t necessarily need to be done at a headquarters. And I think that what’s interesting about that from a talent perspective is now they know that, and we now get to have a new kind of a discourse with talent of where do you thrive? You wanna come into the office, you know, like, um, a lot of younger, uh, to people under 30.

They, they want to actually come to the office. Like they, they, they, cuz this is, that would be their social network. If we go back at our history and look back early in our career, like the office was fun. Like, we’d go to the office and we’d work, but then we’d go to the, the, the go to the game or go to the pub or do whatever. Like we met people that way. And so, um, there’s a real yearning, which was really interesting from people that are under 30 or people that are extroverts, people that wanna get out, they don’t wanna be in their house, they wanna get out. So I think flexibility is what HR is solving for today, which is different than what they were solving for in 2019.

Arnette Heintze

Yeah, that’s great. So, you know, and I’ll touch on just a couple other things here that I know you’re based in the Austin and Dallas area and Texas, and that youre president and editor at large of recruiting daily. And what amazes me is that you currently are doing three bot podcasts. You know, I’ve got my hands filled with one, but here you are knocking off three of those. So

William Tincup

I love learning. It’s just a, it’s just a, I’ve, I, in my mind, I’ve, I’ve made it kind of a way for me to learn, cuz like I’ve done three podcasts today in a webinar, and it’s just a fun way to learn. It’s a good way to interact with other people to kind of get their take on different things and understand like, okay, so I don’t get trapped in my own mind and my own mentality of the way that I think things should work and which is, which is, which is exactly what would happen. Uh, I would get, I would, I would think that I have the answer and then, and then, but bouncing things off of people that are different from me, I, it starts to help, help me really understand topically something in, in more of texture, more dimensionality than I would’ve given it.

Arnette Heintze

Yeah. So, you know, one other element that I wanna, uh, provide to our audience today is that you also serve on the board of, uh, 20 different companies. Yep. Uh, helping them, um, in the HR and talent acquisition space. And, uh, that’s a, that takes up a, a fair amount of your time. I’m, I’m sure as well.

William Tincup

You know, it’s fun because I love entrepreneurs and it was all accidental. I would tell you that, you know, I can look back now and tell you that pure accident, uh, I just really fell in love with this one ceo and I wanted to work with ’em. They didn’t have any money and shocking, not shocking. It was a startup and they didn’t have any money. And I just wanted to work with them. And they said, well, why don’t we just give you equity, you equity. And I’m like, okay, cool.

Arnette Heintze

<laugh> good.

William Tincup

Didn’t, didn’t think anything about it because I just wanted to work with them. And I think when you, when you fall in love with entrepreneurs, you know how chaotic their business owners, you know, how chaotic their lives are. It’s like one day they’re fighting this fire. The next day they’re fighting that fire, they’re blindsided by this thing. It’s, it’s actually a lot of fun to be an advisor, to be on a board board of directors, a little bit different because of physical responsibility and, and physical duties that you have to adhere to. But being an advisor, you don’t have any of that. You can just give people advice and whether or not they take it or not, that’s not really, you know, that’s not really on you.

Arnette Heintze

Yeah. So one of the things I’d like to do today, William, is kind of focus in on the area of pre-employment and background screening. As you know, s two verify, we’re in this space, uh, intimately. We, um, we’re helping, uh, companies all across America today. Um, this industry is highly fragmented. It’s about a $4 billion industry. There are, there are like four or five major publicly traded companies, right? But there’s like 1200 other small firms around the country. So what’s your, uh, perspective on preemployment screening today? How do you see this fragmented industry? How’s that impacting HR teams?

William Tincup

Well, I’m really excited about the category because I think for, if we would’ve talked in 2009 19 Arnette, I think you and I would’ve probably talked about the commoditization of, uh, pre-employment, both assessments, tests, screening, uh, checks, all that type stuff. We would’ve said, people are just, it’s a race to the bottom. And, um, you know, now what I’m, I’m looking at in a category is not just what you do pre-employment, but what you do past pre-employment to actually make sure you set yourself up for success as a business and as an HR leader. So if we, if as an HR leader or a talent acquisition leader, if you look at background checks in kind of a pre pandemic way, you’re probably not giving enough credit to what’s going on with the technology and, uh, the way that the world has changed in terms of managing risk.

William Tincup

So I think the way to reframe that for, for folks is so that they understand is should you, I think we probably, it’s a, it’s a, it’s something we could all agree on. Should you do a background check on someone you hire, like, okay, if you don’t, you’re, you’re playing with dynamite. Okay? So there’s that, but it’s also kind of now a game of, okay, but once you do that, what do you do next with that, with that data? And what do you do next with that employee? And I, you know, the worst case scenario, everyone’s got a Twitter account. Okay? So you got that. Um, you’ve also got that, you know, somebody can get jammed up with a DUI or, or, um, a a serious felony and they don’t necessarily have to disclose that and they’re employed by you. And so it means they carry your brand, they carry your brand reputation and, uh, that, that’s a risk. So not knowing, you know, again, we, I think before you can kind of do play the card, a plausible deniability. Now you now, as an HR leader and as a business leader, there is no such thing. If you don’t know that’s actually your fault.

Arnette Heintze

You know, it’s one of the things that I believe the government does very well when it comes to, uh, screening and and clearing individuals. Yep. Uh, so if you’re gonna have a secret or top secret clearance in the government, you’ve gotta go through periodic screen every couple of years. Yep. And that is a, I know some companies that do that periodically, but I will tell you there’s more that don’t do it. So the, the idea of that continuous review and protecting your brand is a critical step for companies.

William Tincup

Well, and, and managing risk. Even if we just want to, uh, talk to the CFO and a risk managers about this, just say, Hey, listen, this is just a simple way to think about risk. We think about risk differently. Talent, I think the government does a wonderful job, especially, uh, in, in, in doing with, uh, Clarence, uh, is, is their, they’re continuing to make sure that, that you are who you say you are, uh, and that there’s nothing that’s popped up in your life that could possibly be a problem. Like, that’s, there’s nothing invasive about that. That’s just like, it’s, it’s just good business Now. The government does that. Uh, I, I think as you said, I think the defense contractors in particular do a wonderful job of, of just making sure that hey, there’s, we’re managing a risk you don’t like that don’t play. Like, you know, you don’t, you don’t have to work at Bell helicopters.

Arnette Heintze

Yeah. The, you know, the area that is important for clients to remember is they need to have a, an informed decision making matrix that will, and it’s not just across the board, it’s for every specific job category. That’s right. So if they’re gonna exclude somebody for a conviction on a topic, have a good nexus of why you’re excluding that person. Yep. Make it relevant to the position that they’re gonna hold. Right. Just because somebody has a conviction for, let’s call it a d you mentioned dui. Yeah. That may not mean that, um, they can’t hold a job for you. What it suggests is maybe they have an issue with alcohol that needs to be, you need to be certain is under management and control. So,

William Tincup

And it’s a wonderful conversation. It’s just like, okay, hey listen, let’s just talk about it. There’s no, there’s no need to run from it. It happened. We all make mistakes in life. Tell us a little bit about it, what’s going on? Okay, fantastic. Like, again, if you’re convicted for tax fraud and you’re hiring a cfo Yeah. <laugh>, you’re gonna wanna know that. Yeah. Like as a business leader, you wanna know that. And uh, again, I think it’s, I think years ago we could have acted like we didn’t know and it wasn’t our fault and we could kinda hide behind that. And I think that, that those days are just gone for HR leaders and business leaders in particular. You’re in the business of knowing.

Arnette Heintze

So over the last couple of years, you know, obviously we, our, our country in the world has gone through an experience like no other times. And covid has changed everything for us in the area of pre-employment screen. Have you seen any changes because of the pandemic?

William Tincup

I have, um, because of remote work. Uh, Arnett, I think that, that because we, we opened up, which is wonderful, we opened up the world, uh, as a talent base. So now if I’m, if I’m sitting in Dallas, Texas, I can apply to a job in Paris. Not Paris, Texas, but Paris, France, uh, and there is a Paris, Texas by the way. But anyway, so I can apply to a job in Paris. And that’s, that’s, that’s not unusual. Pre, pre covid. There was remote work, um, but it wasn’t on the scale, wasn’t it? The intensity as it is right now. Well now that opens up a little bit of a can of worms in terms of identity verification and identity, identity fraud. So you’re working, somebody hires you or you hire someone from pick, pick your favorite country. Okay? You think you know who they are, but you don’t know necessarily who they are.

So you can run a background check, you should do that, but you’re also gonna have to verify that that person is who they say they are. So I think what I’ve, I’ve really, I’m, I’m bullish on, and I think it’s actually a wonderful thing for the industry, is not just checking one’s background but also verifying their identity. And cuz there’s so much fraud, uh, that’s happened historically, but because of covid, because of remote work that fraud is, is there. And so again, we can’t play, we can’t put our hand, our faces and heads in the, in the sand. We’ve gotta actually get on, on top of this and understand both what we need to do pre-employment, but also what we need to do with identity verification and making sure that those people are who they say they are. So I think the, I think C sped that up. Yeah. I think that sped remote up workup, but I also think it sped up. What’s the change in pre-employment of like, okay, there’s another, there’s another layer to this

Arnette Heintze

In, in the, in the world of background screening, what dec how are companies that you’re working with, how do you see them make decisions about background screening providers? Is it it around a price point? Is it around, uh, accuracy of information, compliance, uh, speed on which they return it? I, I think the, the right answer across the board is probably all of that. But what are the, what are the elements that you see most often come up in this decision process?

William Tincup

Arnette, if we would’ve said, had this conversation in, uh, December of 19, I would’ve said price. Yeah. And it’s just, you know, again, it’s a race to the bottom. Uh, today I don’t, I think price is always, you know, always a factor check. So Understood. But I believe speed is really important to people because the talent is moving so fast. Uh, so whether or not you’re hiring an hourly, um, uh, warehouse worker or you’re hiring a cfo, talent is thinking in minutes, seconds, and hours. Yeah. They’re just thinking differently about things. And so that background check, you know, in 2019, if that thing took 72 hours, that’s too long. Yeah. We need to be able to, we need to be able to have access to that data, give them kind of a, here’s what’s going in assessment, a risk assessment, if you will, of what’s going on. We need to be able to do that in and get seconds, minutes, and hours at, at a, at a price point. That, that makes sense. But yeah, I think speed is actually kind of bumped up on the list.

Arnette Heintze

Yeah. As the world’s technology advances. That’s certainly adding to the, um, timeliness of background screening. Um, you know, years ago, just for our audience, uh, information here, it’s, there’s over 3,300, uh, county courthouses in America. And in the old days you had to send a county runner to every courthouse a person lived. So if you’re hiring somebody in their forties or fifties and they’ve lived in 20 different locations, you literally had to send somebody to every county courthouse to check records. So today that’s kind of changing. They’re still, make no mistake about it, there’s still certain records that need to be pulled from the courthouse, but that, that kind of impacts the timeliness. And that’s, that’s an education point that I think, you know, HR team, if, if they share that with their business leaders, letting them know the challenges. Cuz everything can’t be done in 24 hours.

William Tincup

No, no. It, it is a lot. Again, it’s, uh, I think there’s a communication, as you said to the business leaders, the rest of hr, uh, all of the town team, but also to candidates. So I think there’s an additional kind of a layer of communication of letting them know, Hey, we’re gonna run this check. This is what it takes and this is why maybe even to the point of this is why it takes this so that you understand that now again, it’s kinda managing that, that that expectation like FedEx does or Dominoes does so well of like, here’s the process, here’s what’s the steps of the process and here’s how long it’s gonna take. Once, if a candidate knows that they’re okay, it’s when we don’t communicate to them effectively, here’s what’s going on. They’re left, they’re left to kind of their own device of, well I don’t, I don’t know if I’m gonna get the job. I don’t know what’s going on. They’re not talking to me like I, I guess I just, you know, they just move on. I think we could do a better job of doing candidate communication, especially around pre-employment and background checks in particular.

Arnette Heintze

You know, that communication piece is so important because, you know, everybody should have a right to earn a living in, in our country and a hundred percent, um, and on, on individuals who have challenges. The more open they are about the challenges, the more forthcoming a company’s gonna be about maybe there is a place for you or there’s not. And if there’s not, they tell them why. That’s right. And, and, and as long as there’s a good, um, reason based on what they’ve learned, I think, you know, the, the candidate can go forward and uh, hopefully find something. Well,

William Tincup

And everybody wants to, everybody wants to feel good about what you know about that, about that opportunity. And you, you talk to people in the second chance or fair chance world. And uh, one of the things that you’ll learn is like that check the box thing of, of yesterday year, um, that puts everything at one kind of, it makes everything equal. Okay. So you could have ran a red light or you could have been charged with a double capital murder. Okay, well, you know, that’s just one box. And again, not all crimes are the same. And there’s a length in which, you know, there’s a depth to which when that crime happened. So there’s context is the, is the point. And letting people kind of again, ban the box, getting out of that business and then being able to contextualize, Hey, I was 16 years old, I stole a car, I ran it into a <laugh>, I ran it into a wall. Like I made mistakes. I was 16. You know, that shouldn’t have to, to your point, that person’s 30 years old. Like that should, they should be penalized for somebody they did when they were 16. Like yeah, it’s just

Arnette Heintze

Life. You know, over the last two years, um, you know, hiring has taken a different approach. You know, we’re doing, companies are doing more remote onboarding, remote introductions to the company. And how are companies finding ways to make sure that the talent is gonna be in alignment with their company culture? Have you have, are you finding things that companies, any, any, any company doing something unique that you think others could benefit from?

William Tincup

I think the companies that, uh, they take the veil as much as the veil away. Um, so that the, cuz it’s the, the higher is about fit. It’s all kind of you fitting us, us fitting to you and you know, making sure that you have the skills and making sure that we put you in a position to where you thrive and all that type stuff. So the, the companies that thrive that are doing this be are, are the ones that basically take that veneer or that that veil and they strip it away and say, this is the job. Yeah. This, these are the people you’re gonna be working with, with, it’s the hiring manager. This is the team, it’s the project. Like there’s, there’s a, there’s a company in Boston for technical talent that they put, uh, in pre-employment. So they put engineers into a technical environment for that company.

So here’s like a, a sandbox and here’s the technologies that we use and now here’s what we want you to do. So they give them a task and they watch them code. And so it’s great for the candidates perspective cuz they get to see what projects that they’d be working on and what technologies. So, and, and it’s great for the employer to see is do they fit well with these technologies and do they code well and all that other stuff. But what it’s really doing is it’s this transparency of like, there’s no, you know, shock in awe, you, you, you get the job and you all of a sudden you find out like, wait a minute, you know, we’re gonna be developing most of this in Python. Like, I, I don’t know, Python. You know, like, like again, there should be any shock. And also simple answer is stripping away as much of that what used to be kind of a black box and making it more candidate friendly to understand this is the job, these are the people, this is the outcomes. Like, if this isn’t a good fit for you, cool. If it’s, if it’s a good fit for you and it’s a good fit for us, then let’s find a way to do this.

Arnette Heintze

Yeah. Yeah. Well, William, I could, I could spend all afternoon talking with you on this topic and, uh, I, I really appreciate your time today. Um, would you mind sharing with, uh, with our audience where they can learn more about what you do and how they can connect with you? Sure,

William Tincup

Sure. You just put William Tincup into Google, you’ll find me <laugh>. I’m pretty easy to find by my email.

Arnette Heintze

Yes, you are. That’s, that’s a fact there. So I’ve also gotta ask this one last question. Sure. If, uh, s two verify were to run a background check on you today, is there any discovery that we you’re gonna go Oh no, I should have put that down.

William Tincup

<laugh>. You know, I am so thankful cause I grew up in the eighties. I’m so thankful that phones didn’t have video.

Arnette Heintze

<laugh>, <laugh>. You know what I think all of us are. 

William Tincup

I’m very thankful because, uh, I would be shocked, I would be shocked today just because of the proliferation of, of, uh, of video everywhere. And I think, I think that’s actually really kinda an interesting thing for how people assess talent in the future and what they find about people when they look on social, they look on Facebook or they look on video, they find different things about people. It’s like, well, you know, a, a certain point we didn’t have that. I made all those mistakes. You know, like every one, you, every one of those mistakes, I made every one of those, but it, there wasn’t captured on video, wasn’t captured on Instagram. So I, I wouldn’t be shocked on anything on my background. Uh, check just because, uh,

Arnette Heintze

I didn’t get caught. <laugh>. There you go. Not that I didn’t do it. That’s, it wasn’t, that’s probably for each of us out there. So. Well, look, William, it’s been really a, a great pleasure having you today, uh, with us. I hope we find another time in the future to catch back up and, uh, you know, our goal here is making do all we can to get America back to work. And you’re doing a great job in getting us back to work. So thank you for that. And you have a great evening. You too. Now take care of yourself. All right. Thank, thank you.

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