When hiring employees, screening applicants is a lot like dating: The resulting match may be crucial, and there’s no single best way to do it.
Employment screening is important in the process of identifying, attracting, recruiting, hiring and sometimes even retaining the people who work for you. Doing it the right way could reward you with top performers that will help your company grow – or saddle you with the headaches of a bad hiring decision.
Here are six elements of a sound strategy for making great decisions when hiring employees:
Identify the qualities of Mr. or Ms. Right
First, figure out what kind of person you’re looking for. This way, you’ll be much more effective in reviewing resumes and interviewing. Without having your own ideas up front, you risk hiring employees based on the best sales pitch, and you may not end up with the qualities that fit your needs. Make sure you outline the requisite qualities to prospective candidates and you’ll be more likely to recruit candidates who match your needs.
Listen carefully during the introduction
Speak to the candidate by phone before the interview. Introduce yourself and thank them for their resume or application. Tell them what you’re looking for and ask the candidate what they’re looking for in a position. If you feel a click, set up a face-to-face interview. Otherwise, politely explain that you value their time as well as your own, and that you don’t see a match for this particular position.
Interview objectively when hiring employees
Prepare for the interview by looking at your list of qualities and drafting questions that will solicit information about those things that are important to you. Strive to ask each candidate the same questions, but don’t be too scripted. You want each candidate to feel comfortable enough to let down their guard.
Take notes: Besides being a good way to remember the candidate’s responses, this also can be helpful if you ever find yourself needing to justify – legally or otherwise – your process in hiring employees. And it shows the candidate that you care about what they have to say.
Tell the candidate that you’ll be doing a background check on them, including a criminal check, and find out if they have any concerns. Also, use the interview to have the candidate explain any employment gaps from their application or resume.
At the conclusion of the interview, set expectations about the remainder of your process and the timing involved; this may include an end to your interest in this candidate or referring them to a second interviewer.
Trust but verify
Studies show that 40% of resumes contain fraudulent credentials, lies or omissions. So it is important to verify what candidates have told you. Have each finalist complete a separate application that asks about criminal convictions and that underscores the fact that any fraudulent statement or material omission is grounds for you to terminate the application process.
Peruse the application, looking for red flags such as a lack of identification of past supervisors or unexplained employment gaps. Perform reference checks, calling all references. Use these individuals to dig a little deeper and contact past supervisors and co-workers. Verify the candidate’s education and professional certification or other credentials.
If possible, get a specialist to perform a background check. Consider that 1 in every 37 U.S. adults has been incarcerated.
Weigh the evidence
Once the background checks are completed on each of your finalists, carefully review all of the information that has been collected. Refer back to the interviews and really consider how well you think each candidate would fit your needs and the company culture you’re building. Now you can make your decision on hiring an employee!
Remember this easy ruleMany organizations rush to hire and when, further down the road, they discover that they’ve made a bad decision, they can be slow to fire. Don’t let this be you! Successful startups take time when hiring employees and don’t hesitate to let go someone who doesn’t perform. Just think about the time and resources drained by bad performers, and you should be well positioned to make great choices when hiring employees.
There are a lot of excellent candidates out there! Good employment screening practices will help you find the superstars and leave the bad apples behind.