Tactics for gathering the best and most accurate information on potential employees has changed dramatically over the past decade. From simple criminal background checks to scouring social media, to legally defensible pre-employment screening that can include work capacity testing, and a number of other types of testing and evaluation, the ways to gather details on potential candidates seems to expand exponentially every year.
Today, we'll take a look at a few of the most popular methods—as well as their benefits and pitfalls—to help you decide what the best mix of pre employment screening tactics for your business might be.
As of March 2015, Facebook boasts more than a billion registered users worldwide. With that volume, it’s a good bet you’ll find your candidates posing for family photos and posting shots of their well-composed dinners to the platform. According to the Society for Human Resource Management however, the number of employers who use social media to screen candidates is on the decline, from 34 percent in 2008 to 22 percent in 2013. Why? Legal risk is cited as the number one reason employers have cut down on social screening. Scanning a person’s Facebook profile can easily reveal protected class information before an interview is offered, including race and more personal details like health and family issues. By the numbers, it seems many employers are simply hedging their bets toward less liability—and staying away from practices that could potentially call their hiring practices into question.
Checking a candidate’s credit may uncover the symptoms of things a person might hide on a resume, such as a lapse in employment, but the tactic is certainly not a sure thing, and some rules apply. First, by law, employers aren’t permitted to run a credit check without a candidate’s permission. Secondly, employers have to tell the person if they lost out on the job because of their credit history. Finally, employers must also give potential employees the chance to explain black marks on their credit reports. Follow the rules, and this can be a valuable tactic. Neglect the law however, and it can turn into a headache and liability.
Work Capacity Testing
Finally, perhaps the most information-rich measure employers may choose is work capacity testing. While a cursory or general employment screen might include in-interview questions about physical capacity, a work capacity evaluation tests candidates, importantly after a conditional offer is given, on the specific tasks they will be required to perform in their new position.
The key to finding a successful testing provider, however, is specificity—tests tightly tied to the tasks to be performed by the applicant. Look for a company that publishes their own research, that observes workers at your facility doing the exact jobs to be tested, and that creates tests just for your company. The best tests are the most precise, offering the most reliable—and defensible—results.