Your final steps in making the decision to hire a candidate are to check his or her references, conduct a background check and complete hiring assessment testing. All too often, these items are treated as a formality—a last box to check before extending an offer of employment. However, these steps play a key role in the hiring process. In addition to verifying information provided by the candidate about his or her work and performance history, these items can help you gain additional knowledge that may better predict the candidate's on-the-job success.
Here are seven tips to help keep you on task as you check references, conduct background check and complete hiring assessments, which should always be done BEFORE the offer of employment is made:
1. Have your candidate sign a written consent authorizing you to check references.
2. Keep detailed notes on each conversation. Use a standard template to help you keep track.
3. Avoid any questions that might be construed as discriminatory. As a general rule, information obtained and requested through the pre-employment process should be limited to that which is essential for determining if a person is qualified for the job. Federal and state laws prohibit discrimination based upon race, sex, religion, color, national origin, age, disability, and other factors such as sexual orientation. These protections apply to all aspects of the hiring process, including reference checks.
4. Stick to the script. In light of potential liability issues, it is common for a former employer to provide a neutral reference in which the employer merely affirms that the candidate worked for the employer during certain dates and held a specific position. These questions provide a good basic list:
What were the candidate's dates of employment with your company?
What was the candidate's position/title?
What was your working relationship with the candidate?
Did he or she meet or exceed the job's requirements?
Did he or she meet deadlines in a timely fashion?
Would you hire or rehire this candidate again?
5. Know how to handle a negative reference. Do not immediately take the information at face value. You may be dealing with a position for which your candidate wasn't a good fit. It's also likely that you have no personal knowledge of the individual giving the reference. If you hear or learn something that concerns you, provide the candidate with a chance to explain his or her perspective and consider asking for additional references to gather more information.
6. Conducting Background checks provide information about an applicant’s employment history, education, criminal record, or financial history. In some instances, the extent to which an employer may consider certain information provided by a background check is regulated by federal law, and it can also vary from state to state. Due to the complexities of the law in this area and the sensitive nature of background checks, it is important to consult with an employment attorney before conducting any background checks.
7. Many employers use hiring assessments in making employment decisions. Before administering a test or other selection procedure, employers should ensure that all applicable federal and state requirements for conducting the test are met (i.e., obtaining an employee’s written consent). Employers should ensure that employment tests and other selection procedures are properly validated for the positions and purposes for which they are used. The test or selection procedure must be job-related and its results appropriate for the employer’s purpose. While a test vendor’s documentation supporting the validity of a test may be helpful, the employer is still responsible for ensuring that its tests are valid under the Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures.
Hiring the successful applicant will involve a number of important tasks, steps and paperwork. Get our New Hire Onboarding Checklist to ensure hiring success.