Safety in the workplace is a top priority. In addition to the well-being of your staff, safety includes maintaining the company’s financial goals, integrity, ethics and culture. When conducting a pre-employment background check, communicating your company’s goals and safe hiring practices to prospective employees can help reduce the risk of a regrettable hiring decision. In turn, you will also reduce employee turnover – and the cost of retraining new hires – as well as reduce the risk of a devastating incidental cost.
The Hiring Process
There are four main components to the hiring process: the application, resume, interview and employment background checks. During this process, it is to your advantage as an employer or hiring manager to maintain a checklist of documents received from the prospective new hire and forms you completed as part of the this process, such as questionnaires. A checklist helps ensure that crucial elements of the hiring process do not slip through the cracks. This will also make the hiring process more streamlined and uniform, which is particularly important if there is more than one hiring manager.
A company should always have a hard copy of its policies, procedures and standards of practice for current employees to reference and prospective hires to review. In this manual, include the training procedures followed and audits the company may conduct on its employees, such as employment background checks. In addition to making sure all employees are aware of their expectations and company procedures, documentation of such can help protect your business from lawsuits related to poor hiring practices and consequent incidents.
Documentation also includes making notes about phone conversations with applicants and answers provided during the interview process. It is also a good idea to have a list of questions to ask an applicant’s personal and professional references so you do not accidentally ask a question that is not permitted by law.
Safe Hiring Statements
To ensure all of your bases are covered, include a safe hiring statement as part of the literature you require applicants to review, and include a copy in your policies and procedures manual, as well. This statement tells employees and prospects about your company’s hiring procedures and discusses employee safety; hiring guidelines; measures taken to reduce company risks; employment background checks; information about any third parties assisting in the pre-employment screening process; and the company’s compliance with federal and state laws, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Keeping it Legal
Any time a company wishes to conduct a pre-employment background check or run a credit report on prospective or current employees, it must have written consent from each individual. To help weed out some of the applicants, state in classified ads and job postings that your company runs such checks. By posting this information upfront, those who have questionable histories are less likely to apply, which will help save the company on fees for employment background checks. More importantly, when an applicant knows the company is going to conduct such screenings, he or she is more likely to be honest about the past.
Applications and Checklists
It is common for a company to request only a resume from prospective hires, but an application will require individuals to disclose additional information (e.g., details about criminal charges and plea bargains). Consistently using a checklist when interviewing and screening prospective employees can help you notice questionable items on a resume or application that might otherwise be easy to miss. Red flags to look for on applications include the lack of a signature on an application or forms authorizing employment background checks; listed criminal charges; unexplained gaps in work history; and peculiar reasons for leaving past employers. Make a note of any fields left blank, as well as errors on the application or nonsensical answers.
Using safe hiring practices and procedures is a good first step to finding employees who are the right fit for your company. By setting up an effective and safe hiring procedure, you will streamline the process, make it more efficient and help keep the company culture positive.