Written by Sophia Conti on Jun 1, 2018 in

Need Better Hires? Beef Up Your Employee Screening Process

Hiring the right employees is critical--particularly if you’re just starting out or only have a small team. Hiring and training new team members takes time, money, and resources. You want to pick the right candidate from the start, and that’s why having a sound employee screening process is necessary.

Below are a few tips for making sure your employee screening process sets your business up for success, whether you’re hiring in a customer service role, a technical role, or otherwise. Following this advice, you’ll find hires that “fit” your company--and the customers your company serves.

Types of Employment Screening

During the hiring process, candidates work and prepare to show their prospective employer the most polished version of themselves. Their resumes and interview responses are carefully curated to present what they want the employer to see. While this isn’t necessarily dishonest, it may present a one-sided view of the candidate, when a more holistic picture is what helps make the best hire.

Utilize different methods of employment screening to get a more holistic view. Below is an overview of some different types of screening and how they can best be implemented.

Skills Testing

Skills testing is a brief task or assessment that directly relate to the skills needed for the position. This serves as confirmation of the skills that a resume may claim, as well as a way to gauge the true level of a candidate’s skills. Not all positions will require skills testing, but jobs that rely heavily on technical skills such as coding or advanced Excel knowledge can greatly benefit from these kind of assessments. If you’re new to testing an applicant’s job skills, check out this resource from Capterra on choosing skill testing software.

Ideally, skills testing should be done after the interview, but before a job offer. This prevents wasting an applicant’s time, especially if they are not likely to be considered for the job.

Reference Checks

Reference checks are a fairly standard element of the hiring process, but too often are not used to their full potential. Hiring managers may simply look to confirm employment or find any major red flags from their last position, but when done well, reference checks can provide deeper insight into a candidate. Use this information to get a sense of how they operate day-to-day and how that fits into your team and office overall.

References are selected by the candidate, so their goal is to give you a positive picture. This isn’t a bad thing - you want reassurance that your hiring decision is a good one! - but consider asking some of these questions from RecruitLoop to get a fuller picture instead of canned answers.

Background Checks

Background checks are also standard employee screening tools. In some cases, they are required, but many companies consider them a matter of due diligence. Background checks can often be conducted cheaply and quickly online, but be sure to follow the appropriate laws regarding what kind of background check you can conduct. These laws vary greatly from state-to-state.

Credit checks can sometimes be part of background checks, and may give you a more comprehensive look at candidates under consideration for financial positions. Credit checks help identify potential sources of risk, but take care to ensure your reasons for conducting them are justified and legally defensible.

Implementing Employment Screening

Understanding how to best utilize employment screening tools is only half the process. Employers must also create comprehensive policies that ensure a fair and effective implementation of the employment screening.

Create an Appropriate Policy

Not every screening tool is appropriate for every potential new hire. Employment screening should be directly related and appropriate to the level and type of employee being considered for the position. Company leadership should create general guidelines for employment screening, and help hiring managers know when and how to implement employee screening depending on the type of position for which they are hiring.

These policies should be mindful of state and federal laws surrounding employment screening, as well as any documentation needed to conduct the screening, such as authorization from the job candidates. Every kind of employment screening needs clearly defined reasons for conducting that screening, and all hiring managers need to be aware of those requirements. For more guidance in developing a comprehensive employment screening policy, check out this resource from TransUnion’s ShareAble for Hires.

Implement the Policy Consistently

This is a big one! Every potential candidate for a position should have the same experience. Use the same forms for every person applying for the position and provide the screening at the same time in the hiring process, under the same conditions. Consistency is especially necessary for skills testing: if there are times when exceptions will be made to the skills testing requirement, those should be clearly outlined in a policy. Exceptions for personal connections to the hiring manager or company should not be allowed.

Review and Update the Policy on a Regular Basis

Jobs change and evolve with time. New software and technology is used. New duties and responsibilities are added to a position.

Your employment screening needs to reflect these changes as well. Assessments are ineffective if they don’t keep up with the changing concerns of your business. Developing a regularly habit of annually reviewing your screening tools is a great way to ensure that your business is using the best up-to-date tools to select potential employees.

Also, learn from your experience! Among the employees that have worked best for your company, what are their strengths? What hasn’t worked out in the past? Learn from these answers and adjust your screening process, interview questions, and job descriptions accordingly.

Better Employment Screening Equals Better Employees

Employers and employees can sometimes have a negative view of employee screening. After all, screening provides another layer of work in addition to all the other pre-hire paperwork. The key is shifting your mindset about the process. The goal of employee screening is not limited to keeping people out, it’s about letting the good ones in.

As an employer, you don’t just want to hire a good employee once in a while. You want to create a process that allows you to consistently hire good employees. Having a screening process that is competent, credible, connected, consistent, and current is the key to making sure you have a good hiring process on autopilot.

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About the author

Sophia Conti of 365 Business Tips

Sophia Conti is a contributing editor at 365 Business Tips, a new blog that curates the best ideas and information for small business owners. She specializes in helping businesses streamline their processes and procedures, with a focus on hiring and human resources.

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