Best Screening Practices for Hiring New Employees

When you are searching for the right candidate to hire in your small business, all you usually have to consider is a 1-page resume provided by the candidate. But is that single-sided document enough to give you the big picture about your potential hire?

Usually, it is a good start, but that is all. A resume has the basic background about a candidate’s work history, but it is only a mask that the prospect hides behind. Your job is to find out more about the person who will become an intimate part of your company.

Why Check Out More?

There are many reasons, including:

  • Verification of credentials (college degree, certifications, etc)
  • Determine if a desired salary is reasonable
  • Reduce potential liability if hired (or to choose not to hire)
  • Get a better assessment of past work performance
  • And even to determine if the person can get along with your entire staff

So what efforts can you do to find out more about a potential hire and get past the great first impression of a resume?

Ask pertinent questions in an interview

If you are interested in a candidate, ask them in for a live interview. While a live interview is better since you have an opportunity to read body language, at the very least do a phone interview if they are out of the area.

Ask important and pertinent questions. Avoid the cliché questions like “where do you see yourself in 5 years?” Instead, ask for specific examples and anecdotes that demonstrate their expertise or skills.

Ask reason(s) for leaving prior employers

It is a natural progress for a person to change employers with a goal of career or self improvement. But a resume filled with previous employers for whom the candidate worked just 1 or 2 years can raise a series of red flags.

Even if the candidate has a solid job history, ask the question about why they left. You could get insight into whether the person was job hopping, has a history of interpersonal conflicts, or has indeed been on a positive career path.

Google ’em

A Google search can result in access to important websites where your candidate is mentioned. But be careful of finding a lot of results of the wrong person. Find the pertinent results and verify that it’s the right person.

Google searches can turn up positive things like a commitment to community service and other volunteer work. And it could turn up darker pasts behind the person.

Check Facebook/Twitter

It doesn’t hurt and certainly is legal to check if your candidate has a Facebook or Twitter account. Again, verify if you find matches. But the postings on Twitter or Facebook can tell a lot about the “real” person.

For instance, does the person “like” a lot of questionable activities? Does the person have photos that are of questionable character? And most important, do these things matter in your business? For instance, if a client saw this person’s Facebook postings, would they question doing business with your company?

Perform criminal background check

A criminal background could reveal if the person is a potential liability to your company. But if only one or two things pop up, be sure to ask about them about the details. Even an arrest could have resulted in dismissal due to a big misunderstanding.

Check credit history

A credit check is not necessary for every candidate. However, if your potential hire will have any fiscal or accounting responsibilities in your company, a credit check could reveal if the person has a history of defaulting, avoiding debt responsibilities, and overextending resources.

Inquire with previous employers

In the past, a potential employer could always call a previous employer and get a relatively good idea of the candidate’s job and character. However, in today’s litigious society, past employers are more and more faced with divulging just the facts: dates of employment, job title, and if you’re lucky, salary range and possible disciplinary activities.

However, it never hurts to try and see if you can get a helpful response. Even a “think carefully about so-and-so” could be a helpful warning clue.

Get as full of a background as you can on any potential candidate. Never just go by resume. The more you check and screen your potential hires, the better your business will be by hiring the right person.