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Background Checks

HireRight vs. Cisive vs. Sterling: 2024 Comparison

  • December 27, 2023
  • Alan Gordon
  • Approx. Read Time: 7 Minutes

The need for reliable background screening solutions is critical in today's world. Hiring employees who prioritize your company's security and interests is paramount.

With quick access to any solution available by the click of a Google search, the challenge remains: How do you choose a background screening solution that will help protect your interests and identify candidates who align with your needs? 

Let us help you find the right background screening solution for you! In this guide, we will compare three top solutions: HireRight vs. Cisive vs. Sterling.




Here’s a summary of the key differences between these background screening platforms: 

        1. HireRight and Sterling offer support via phone and email. Cisive offers 24x7 support via a dedicated and internally staffed service representative.  
        2. HireRight & Cisive offers HR real-time analytics, a great feature when screening candidates for your own business and not as an agency. 
        3. Sterling and HireRight offer accurate reports, however, both have faced class-action lawsuits surrounding candidate record accuracy. Cisive is dedicated to accuracy and truthful reporting. 


Table of Contents 

  1. Meet the Companies 
  2. Software Comparison
  3. Key Feature: Quality & Accuracy 
  4. Key Feature: Customizability 
  5. Key Feature: Customer Experience 
  6. Key Feature: Pricing
  7. Which is best for you? 
  8. FAQs




What Is HireRight? 

HireRight is a background and pre-employment screening solution, offering a comprehensive variety of services. The platform offers a wide variety of services, including criminal background checks, employment and education verifications, and drug testing.  

HireRight's tailored screening solutions allow businesses to tailor their search and experience to the needs and demands of their industry. Integrations with all the popular application tracking systems (ATS), allowing users to view results in real time and track potential hires using the same interface. 


Cisive Transparent


What is Cisive?

Cisive is accredited by the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA) and named as a top Pre-Employment Screening Provider by HRO Today. 

Cisive seeks to mitigate risks by providing the most accurate background screening and employee onboarding services, particularly in compliance-focused industries. Their platform's wide spectrum of screening services are designed to empower you with the data and information needed to confidently hire. All results are delivered with truthful reporting, compliance, and integrity –no shortcuts, only results. 

Cisive is dedicated to providing the most accurate information with the best customer service to help positively impact your hiring and overall growth.  

Sterling Logo

What Is Sterling? 

Sterling offers background screening services encompassing various aspects of the hiring process. From employment and I-9 verification to compliance expertise, Sterling seeks to streamline the request, review, and management of screening results. The platform helps identify activities that can increase employer liability, such as getting a DUI and alerts HR about them.  


Background Screening Software Comparison

HireRight vs Cisive vs Sterling Comparison Chart

HireRight vs. Sterling vs. Cisive: Key Features 


1. Quality and Accuracy 

Accurate background checks are crucial for evaluating the qualifications and trustworthiness of candidates. Inaccurate background checks can result in both the hiring of unqualified candidates, or accidentally overlooking candidates who would have been a good fit. Either scenario can cause avoidable detriments to your hiring process. 

Let's break down the accuracy of HireRight vs. Cisive vs. Sterling.  


HireRight has helped hundreds of businesses across the globe run background checks over the past 30+ years. Currrently, 99.98% of reports are dispute-free and are able to more frequently identify criminal alerts. 

While effective in most cases, in 2012, HireRight was sued by the Federal Trade Commission for not taking reasonable steps to ensure the information in the reports was current and reflected updates. 


If you want a background screening service that offers the most accurate background checks, go with Cisive. They have faced zero class-action lawsuits and had zero data breaches since their inception over 40 years ago. Cisive’s criminal history checks have a 99.9993% accuracy rate, ensuring you never lose talent because of an inaccurate background check. 


Sterling offers excellent turnaround times and offers accurate results in most cases. Sterling’s speed is impressive, but Sterling too has been sued for background check errors like HireRight in the past. However, Sterling is still one of the top services on the market. 


2. Customizability 

Every business has different challenges and needs. Customization options give you the flexibility to tailor the platform and focus on what matters most to your business’s specific needs. 


HireRight offers plenty of customization options with the ability to customize background reports and background screenings using dashboards. HireRight’s risk and decision tools help customize candidate messaging during the pre-adverse action or adverse action notices process.  


Cisive is a fully customizable background check platform. Cisive is 100% compatible with any ATS, allowing you to build processes that work with your existing ones. 

The Cisive Analytic Reporting Tool (CART), has a custom real-time analytics engine that helps access relevant data and generate in-depth reports that help make data-driven decisions. As an added bonus, CART can generate these reports automatically. 


Sterling allows users to add customized background screenings, such as employment and education verifications. Sterling’s SmartData technology helps apply customized order rules, match candidate data, and perform other parts of the background criminal check process automatically. 


3. Customer Experience 

Easy-to-use platforms ensure good customer experience, are easy to implement, and minimize the need to train your staff. Customer support is equally important because–let’s face it—you’ll need help at some point, and you want a support team that’s quick and effective. 


HireRight has an easy-to-use interface that runs well even on low-bandwidth internet connections. It allows users to onboard employees with just their names and email. The platform also makes integrating HireRight with ATS, HR, and payroll software a breeze. 

HireRight's support team can be contacted via phone or email, however user reviews indicate that customer support is not always a strong suit.  


Cisive simplifies reporting to help you make data-driven decisions faster where most solutions generate reports that are clunky and hard to read. Cisive highlights information to bring attention to critical data that can be used to make a quick decision on candidates. 

Cisive is dedicated to effective and efficient customer support. They understand the importance of prompt support, so they assign each client a designated and internally staffed account management team who handles your account via a 24/7 helpdesk.  


Sterling makes the entire process easy, from data entry to finding reports. The reports are detailed, clear, and easy to understand. The platform also integrates with popular ATS and staffing software, which makes importing candidate files easier. Sterling completes criminal record searches in four hours or less. 

Customer service is available through Sterling, however, user reviews cite Sterling’s unresponsive support team as a major drawback. 


4. Pricing 

The optimal background screening solution should align with your organization's needs and financial constraints. The right tool will provide the best value accompanied by accurate, reliable results.  

Be wary of choosing a background screening solution based on price alone. Instead, compare the return on investment and pricing flexibility. 


Reviewers on sites like Capterra and G2 suggest that HireRight is an affordable solution. However, a sales form or phone call must be completed in order to receive a price. Alternatively, you can use, a HireRight company, for one-off checks. Prices range from $36.47 to $76.95 for instant criminal checks. 


Cisive offers a custom price based on your specific needs, so you never pay for features and capabilities you don’t need. Speak to a Cisive expert today to understand how Cisive can address your background screening needs and to get a personal quote.  


While Sterling does not disclose a price directly on the sit, disclose that depending on the complexity of screenings, the cost of a background check could “range from $50 to several hundred dollars.” The exact price varies based on the depth of your screening, so you’ll need to contact sales to get a precise quote. 


HireRight vs. Cisive vs. Sterling: Which Is Best for You? 

Cisive offers increased value through greater accuracy, customizability, and its comprehensive feature set. Their solution offers a wide variety of highly accurate screening solutions suitable across industries. To top off their offering, Cisive stands out above HireRight and Sterling in customer support.  

Cisive’s dedicated, expert account management teams are available to help you every step of the way—you don’t have to figure everything out yourself! Their onboarding solution is available to you via computer or phone and can be customized to fit your needs. If you ever need help, you can reach out to your designated client service team who handles your account through the 24/7 helpdesk.  

HireRight is a popular service that provides pre-employment screening in over 200 countries, making it a great pick for global teams. For teams focused on a feature-rich background screening solution, Sterling is worth considering.  


Experience Premier Screening & Compliance With Cisive 

Our commitment to providing the most accurate background screening service and consistent investments in technology to develop our systems have enabled us to deliver the highest value to our clients for four decades. 

If you’re looking for a background screening system that also offers a full onboarding solution, is fully customizable, fits your workflow, and is 100% compliance-driven, speak to a Cisive expert today!  




What Key Factors Should Be Considered When Choosing a Background Screening Service? 

When choosing a background screening service, the needs of your organization should be at the forefront. Factors to consider include: 

    • Scope of Services 
    • Industry Specialization 
    • User experience 
    • Pricing 
    • Customer Support 


How Do Background Screening Service Providers Ensure Data Security and Privacy Throughout the Screening Process? 

All background screening service providers are held to stringent security standards and compliance measures. Data encryption and secure storage are just two of the ways sensitive information is safeguarded.  

For specific security practices and policies, speak with an expert.


What Impact Can Background Screening Services Have on the Overall Performance and Security of a Business? 

By helping to identify qualified and trustworthy employees, background screening service reduce hiring risks and enhance workforce reliability. This leads to improved operational efficiency, reduced turnover, and minimized risk. The identification of potentially risky candidates assist in maintaining reputations and assets. 


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