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Know The Person You Are Hiring

Know the Person You Are Hiring


Steven Davis

Ever wonder who is in your home working on the heating unit? Did you know that the person changing the oil in your car is a convicted thief? Is your child’s soccer coach a felon? Do you know the driving history of the people driving your company vehicles on the roadways? Who is representing your company?


Surveys show that 40% of applications and resumes submitted are fabricated or misleading in hopes of increasing the applicant’s chances of getting the job. Eighty percent of the information received from personal references is misleading. How do you make a good hiring decision based upon the information you know? Flip a coin. In this article we will provide you with concrete ways to increase the amount of factual information you have available for any applicant in order to make a good hiring decision and increase the likelihood of finding the right person for the job. If implemented correctly, these techniques could decrease your Workers’ Compensation, general liability insurance, and vehicle insurance premiums and increase your reputation in the community. During the application process, require all applicants to provide 3 professional references – not personal references. Personal references tend to be friends, coworkers, and family members who either do not feel comfortable telling the entire truth or have not observed the applicant actually working or know very little about an applicant’s work habits, ethics, etc. I strongly recommend you obtain 3 professional references who have no personal connection to the applicant but can attest to their abilities and employment history. While this will provide a small portion of information you need in total to make a good decision – it will add to whatever else you find out about your potential employee. Next you should require every applicant to interview in person. After 20 minutes of speaking to the applicant face-to-face, you should have a good idea if they are a good fit for your company and the position to be filled. Make sure you ask difficult questions and watch for their response. If possible, give them either a written test or hands-on test. For example, if you are hiring someone that is required to use a computer program like Microsoft Excel, have them complete an exercise on a computer using that program. Be creative. While it may add time to your interview process, view as an investment in your company. I’d rather spend an additional 30 minutes making sure I have the best possible candidate than making a fast decision and hiring a “dud”. After the interview, it’s time to conduct a criminal background check. Believe or not, the majority of companies do no background check at all. They simply accept the word of the applicant concerning their history which is dangerous and it increases the company’s liability dramatically. I’ve been in human resources for over 20 years. I remember 2 brothers that came in together and applied for 2 vacant positions dealing with the public requiring a valid driver license. On paper and in person, they were outstanding candidates and I was ready to hire them both. After I conducted an electronic background check and driver license verification (MVR), I found that both were convicted of felony larceny, safecracking, breaking and entering, and neither had a valid license. Are these people you want representing your company? I would not have known any of this information if I hadn’t checked. We didn’t hire them. Drug screening prior to employment is essential. There are some good laboratories you should be able to find locally that will test your applicants for around $30 – $40 each. It is money well spent. Identifying drug users reduces your liability. Think for a moment what would happen if John is operating one of your vehicles and hits a pedestrian because he likes to smoke marijuana or abuse prescription drugs. That is a lawsuit waiting to happen. Call the professional references we spoke about in the second paragraph. Ask questions that yeild information about how they work, punctuality, trust, need for supervision, and ability to do the work assigned. Listen to what they say about the applicant. Sometimes the best information is what they don’t say. Listen for long pauses as they think how to phrase a response to your question. When you’ve completed the interview, hands-on testing, criminal background check, drug screening, and calling the professional references, you should have a more complete picture of the person applying for your position. You should know if they are right for your organization. Now act. Decide who to hire, contact them and make an offer for employment. You probably are asking yourself “How much does all this cost?” All of this should take about 40 minutes to process which includes interview time. The background check and drug screening should cost anywhere from $50 – $60 for every new hire. I know it seems expensive but you need not spend the money on every applicant – just the one you anticipate hiring. Spending this money upfront is an investment. If you prevent one accident or theft – you’ve profited and your company benefits. Knowing who you hiring: priceless. —— Author’s Note: There are many Federal and State laws governing background checks, drug screening, legal interviewing questions, and providing references. Many of the vendors for background checks and drug screening test know these rules and can assist you greatly. Consult a human resources professional or attorney if you are ever in doubt of being compliant with these various laws. Every company, regardless of size, should follow similar guidelines for screening potential employees.

Steve Davis is the adminsitrator for who writes home spun editorials about today’s news, growing up, community, and more.

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