If you find yourself being the almighty HR department of one person for your organization, first off, let me congratulate you on your fortitude because that is a tough job. I’ve been in your shoes and when it is just you supporting the HR efforts of a one hundred- to two hundred- employee organization, you need to be efficient to survive and then thrive. Fortunately, there are many options for making your life easier when it comes to pre-employment screening activities. Are you using all ten of these best practices yet?
1 – Do an HR audit to uncover potential liabilities with your current pre-employment screening process
While an HR audit can be a lifesaver in terms of preventing future liability for all areas of human resources, it is especially critical when it comes to assessing the legality of your hiring process. Here are just a few points to cover:
- Be aware of any “Ban the Box” laws that affect the geographic areas in which you hire employees, as they will regulate whether you may ask about criminal history on your employment application.
- Make sure that a credit report is only used to screen applicants in consideration for positions that have a job-related necessity for someone with no credit blemishes. Moreover, for those positions that do warrant a credit check, be certain to comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and obtain the employee’s written consent at the appropriate point in the process for your industry before seeking the report.
- Examine your company’s use of social media in the screening process. That can be a slippery slope due to the type of information that can be uncovered about a person. However you approach social media screening, do it consistently across all applicants.
- Ensure that you don’t ask any questions on the employment application that could reveal an applicant’s disability and violate the ADA.
- Double check that your employment application doesn’t ask for any unnecessary information too early in the process…for example, Social Security Number. While it can be easier to collect information all at once, the truth is that you would only need that information later at the point of the conditional offer (unless you a have a specific industry exception). Applicants can be creeped out by sharing that in the beginning. Have a protocol for gathering this data electronically once you actually need it.
2 – Document your process and put it where upper management can find it
Especially if you are the only HR person! If something should happen to you, other select members of management should be able to step in to make sure things like SSN verification, background checks, education verification, etc. continue to be conducted on candidates for hire. They should have contact information for any vendors you use for these activities, as well. Have a documented plan of action explaining what happens when credit checks, reference checks and background checks come back with unfavorable news. Otherwise, upper management may not know that if you decide not to hire a person because of information in his/her credit report, for example, you have to give him/her a copy of the report and inform the candidate of the right to challenge the report under the FCRA.
3 – Tell your applicants what to expect from your recruiting process
Your careers website is the perfect place to add a link/page that discusses your entire recruiting and selection process. A short conversation during a preliminary phone interview will also be appreciated by candidates as it sets expectations with them for the probable length of the hiring process. As a result, some candidates that may have been a poor fit will self-select out of the process and save you time.
4 – Develop job-relevant job-specific screening questions
Proactively work with hiring managers…before you get slammed with eight new job postings in a day…to plan questions that will be relevant and that will elicit the types of answers that will help you make sound decisions earlier in the process. This exercise prevents the likelihood of wasting time reviewing unqualified applications later…time that you don’t have to waste.
5 – Use scoring/disqualification filters on application questions
Set up screening question groups in your applicant tracking system to automatically score and/or disqualify applicants based on their answers to both job-specific and standard application multiple choice questions. Then, filter out candidates that fail to meet basic qualifications when you are ready to view applicants for a job.
6 – Use email templates to make communication to applicants quick and easy
Whether you have canned responses saved in your work Gmail account or you build email templates in your recruiting software, it’s a huge timesaver to have commonly used blocks of text ready to go when communicating with candidates. Not only does it reduce the possibility you will make mistakes (thanks to spell check and a restful state of mind when responses are created before they are needed), but it ensures that candidates stay engaged because you are actively communicating with them throughout the recruiting process. People will regard you as a hiring rock star even though there is only one of you in human resources!
7 – Consider pre-employment testing to improve quality of hire
Unfortunately, just because someone is a great interviewer doesn’t mean that he/she will be a great employee for your company. Using an employee assessment as one tool in your selection process toolbox will provide you and hiring managers with incredibly helpful information about the person’s motivations, cognitive abilities and/or job skills…depending on the type(s) of assessments used.
8- Order background checks that include local court criminal record searches
Don’t rely on just a national database check because you will be missing part of the criminal history picture for many applicants. Much of what is recorded at the local and county court level never makes it into the national database. Even though you are with a small organization and trying to keep hiring costs from escalating, don’t skimp on background checks. You could pay for it in negligent hiring claims later.
9 – Make the candidate accountable for quality reference information
The last thing for which you have time is chasing down references and trying to obtain actual quality feedback about your potential new employee. Affordable technology can take the headache out of reference checking and allow your candidate to take ownership with personalized reference invitations that appear to come directly from the candidate, and the ability for the candidate to monitor the responsiveness of his peers. Make sure that any reference check software platform that you use promotes objectivity and allows references to rate potential hires on your selected job-relevant competencies.
10 – Ask your vendor partner(s) for assistance
Even though you are undoubtedly a strong, HR army of one, you’d be crazy not to ask and accept help from your partners when you need it. While technology solution providers will obviously support you on the use of their software, don’t be shy about asking them for tips and best practices for HR processes. And for vendors who handle background checking, drug testing, and credit checks…they can keep you up to date when it comes to complying with regulations. Many providers will handle communication with candidates when unfavorable results arise, as well.
Do you have ideas for other pre-employment screening best practices? What obstacles do you face as an HR department of one? We encourage your comments and ideas, below.