If you’re like most U.S. employers, you’re probably running pre employment screening on job candidates or using an employment screening service for that purpose. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 87 percent of employers do so. While a criminal history check (and in some cases, credit) is an important tool you can use to protect your company from bad hires, your pre-employment screening process shouldn’t stop there. If you want to truly mitigate risk, you need to take your investigation further.
Check every reference. Job candidates with shady pasts—whether that means job-hopping, poor performance, terminations or the like—may try to fool you with falsified references or by only including individuals they can count on to say something nice. Beat them at their own game by connecting with all past supervisors and managers—even if they’re not listed on the resume. You can take the following precautions as well to ensure you’re gathering quality information:
- Google the reference’s company and call the main office number rather than the digits provided by the candidate.
- Confirm all important details such as position title, dates of employment and salary.
- Ask additional open-ended questions about reliability, performance, strengths and weaknesses.
- Ask why the candidate left their employment and if he or she is eligible for rehire.
Look for information online. A candidate’s online presence can say a lot about his or her character—and these days almost everyone has a digital footprint. Enter the full name and geographic location into a search engine and take a look at what comes up. You’re likely to find social media profiles on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as well as personal web pages and blogs. Note: because profiles often contain photos and information about political and religious leanings, it’s best to wait to search a candidate out online until after you’ve interviewed them in person in order to avoid potential claims of discrimination.
Watch their reactions. Sometimes honest and highly qualified professionals still turn out to be bad hires—usually because they’re uncertain about the next step in their career or their work style and personality doesn’t fit well within the company culture. Once you’ve decided to offer a candidate a position, sit down with him or her and go through the employment contract, the benefits offered, and your company policies point by point. Gauge his reactions and look for areas where he might seem uncomfortable or disappointed. Address these issues and you may reach a resolution or the candidate may decide to move on. Either way, you’ve improved your chances of making the right employment decision.