Vetting Candidates: How a Better Screening Process Can Save You
When hiring managers are looking to fill a role, there’s often a sense of urgency surrounding the process. With a vacancy on the team, employers may face issues behind the scenes that negatively affect morale and productivity. With one less team member around, work may pile up and create delays. This is especially true if the open position is a specialized one. Likewise, managers and other employees could see increased workloads to make up for the missing team member. It’s an all-around unpleasant situation. For these reasons, it’s easy to understand why employers may be quick about vetting candidates. No matter how tempting it is to speed through the hiring process, however, it’s almost never a good idea.
Why You Need a Thorough Screening Process
Vetting job applicants is an important and understated part of choosing the right candidate. If a company rushes through its screening process — or skips it altogether — the negative consequences could outweigh the benefits. Sure, you might be able to get your new employee trained and working ASAP. That won’t matter, however, if you later discover they lied or omitted important information during the interview.
Per Glassdoor, companies spend about $4,000 to hire a new employee. Now imagine if, due to a lack of proper screening, your business is forced to repeat that process. The cost will begin to pile up, both financially and in terms of time. Even if your team is struggling with an open position, your company should be cautious about bringing new people on board. After all, you’ll be in the same position if either you or the candidate realizes it’s not a good fit later on.
Setting aside the money it will cost to look for another replacement, having a bad hire on your team will also cost you. According to Medium, 24 percent of employers estimate that hiring a bad employee can cost up to $50,000 when all is said and done. That’s a lot of money to throw away filling an empty role!
According to Ken Jackson, Ph.D., Director of Assessment and Development at Verensics, it’s not just the employer who pays for a bad hire either.
“Accepting a job that is not a good fit can be very costly for the applicant as well. Some jobs may require a move if the applicant accepts the position,” Dr. Jackson explained. “This may mean taking children out of school, selling and buying a home, time away from family if the job begins before a move is finalized, etc. In addition, being unsuccessful in a job may create a future problem when the unsuccessful employee looks for another position. From an ethical standpoint, doing the due diligence in conducting a thorough job analysis and creating an accurate job description can save both the organization and the applicant a lot of time and money.” As frustrated as you may be with having an open position, it will actually be less costly and stressful in the long-term if your company vets its candidates thoroughly.
How to Go About Vetting Candidates
So now that you understand the importance of screening candidates properly, let’s dive into how you can do so. The vetting process should serve two purposes. Primarily, it should ensure that whoever you’re bringing on board isn’t a risk or liability to your company. This means you want to uncover any prior criminal record or negative work experiences before you send an offer. Andrew Neiner, Ph.D., Director of Research and Analysis at Verensics, underscored the importance of this aspect of vetting. Although ensuring candidates have necessary skills and abilities is important, more focus needs to be placed on finding employees who won’t harm your company.
“Historically, employee selection has been focused on evaluating a candidate’s job-related strengths, such as knowledge, skills, abilities, and motivation,” Dr. Neiner explained. “Relatively less emphasis has been placed on identifying a candidate’s potential to engage in deviant work behaviors, such as theft, fraud, and harassment. In other words, most employee selection systems are designed to ‘select in’ candidates who can help the organization, not ‘select out’ those who might harm it.”
Although the screening process should serve the company first, an effective one should also provide clarity to applicants. Even if an applicant has no previous record, it will still be costly for the company if that person accepts the role only to discover they’re not a great fit, or that it isn’t what they were expecting. In fact, for many professionals, the vetting process determines whether or not they’ll continue to pursue the role. Although that may seem like a way to lose good candidates, it’s better to know if an applicant’s values don’t align with yours now. Discovering this later on could prove expensive.
So, how can you go about enhancing your vetting process?
Write a detailed and accurate job description. If done properly, this first tip should save time for both companies and applicants. No one enjoys arriving at an interview only to discover they don’t qualify for the role, or that it’s very different than the description suggested. Similarly, it’s a waste of a hiring manager’s time to interview someone who doesn’t fit the bill.
Writing a detailed job description that clearly outlines job requirements and responsibilities can prevent this lose-lose situation. Doing so should drive any honest candidates who don’t meet your requirements away. It will also decrease the likelihood of applicants not having a thorough understanding of what they’d be signing up for.
As for dishonest candidates who may lie about the requirements, that’s what the rest of the process is for.
Use software to your advantage. There’s so much technology available to us today, and hiring managers should take advantage of that. Rather than sorting through applications by hand, install software that can sift through candidates for you. There are programs that will pinpoint the candidates whose resumes and applications meet your requirements.
If you’re concerned about screening candidates for behavioral issues, Verensics offers pre-employment online interviews. These will give employers further insight into an applicant’s values and behavior. (It will also help them identify when candidates are lying ahead of an interview!)
Endera is another platform that can help organizations assess and eliminate workplace risk. As its website puts it, Endera “picks up where background checks end.” Employers looking to keep an eye on candidates even after they’re on the team could benefit from the company’s services, which include scanning data sources to determine if employees’ records have changed since the first check. If anything is picked up by Endera’s scan, employers will receive a secure alert informing them of the change. With this setup in place, business owners and managers will never have to worry about who is working at their company.
Take advantage of phone and video interviews. Another way to save time prior to in-person assessments is to conduct phone or video interviews. If you get a negative gut feeling about an applicant, you can simply end the hiring process there.
That saves your company time and money doing in-person interviews and background checks.
Ask the right questions during interviews. We’ve written a whole post about why employers need to ask the right questions during interviews. Far too many hiring managers focus on skill, while not enough are assessing applicants’ attitudes and behavior. Check out that article to learn how you can uncover red flags using certain queries.
Collect the right references — and call them! There’s a reason most job applications ask for references, but sometimes they go ignored. Just going the extra mile and actually speaking with every reference can make a huge difference. However, there’s another step employers can take to ensure the information they’re receiving is sound.
When asking for references from applicants, make sure to ask for contact information for former supervisors only. Studies have shown that up to 50 percent of references aren’t from previous bosses. This means hiring managers may not be getting a completely accurate picture of candidates’ abilities from the references on file.
Conduct thorough background checks. If you’re debating hiring a candidate, make sure to conduct a detailed background check first. This can help uncover any criminal history that may be present. Likewise, some employers conduct drug tests as part of the background-check process. Knowing whether an applicant has a history of substance abuse or criminal history can help managers make the right hiring choices, particularly if those things were omitted from the original application.
Implementing a thorough vetting process can sound like a huge undertaking, but it’s well worth it in the end. If your company feels the need to enhance its candidate screening, sit down with your team and decide which areas need improvement. Assessing where former bad hires went wrong can also shed a light upon the cracks in your current process.
From there, you should be able to prepare yourself for the next time you have an opening on your team. With any luck, your efforts will eliminate problem employees before they create problems for your business. That is the whole point of vetting!