You were impressed with their resume.
You conducted the phone interview.
You were equally impressed with them during an in-person interview.
Could they be the perfect candidate?
Aside from the typical background checks HR professional do these days: reference checks, Google searches, LinkedIn/Twitter/Facebook searches, criminal background checks…are there other signs that can point to a problematic employee before you spend all your time researching them?
Don’t loose sight of the importance of the traditional “Application for Employment.” Candidates will typically stretch the truth on their resumes with the expectation that it will be the only document the potential employer will use in evaluating them. Remember: resumes are not always complete or clear. Last thing an employer wants to deal with is having to terminate an employee after-the-fact and risking a lawsuit.
So how can the Application for Employment serve as a measurement of an applicant’s candidacy?
1) Beware the applicant that doesn’t sign the employment application. Most companies use the same standard line on the application near the signature block – “all information is truthful and accurate to the best of my knowledge.” Not signing is less of an omission and more a sign that the candidate is purposefully not signing the application for fear that it would be used against them later when its discovered that the information they provided was false.
2) The applicant does not sign the consent for a background screening. Most online resume submissions are programmed to not allow a candidate to advance to the submission stage without agreeing to a background check, but if you are having them complete the application in person – pay attention to this box. Employers who do not enforce this, especially small businesses, run the risk of being labeled the “preferred employer” for those with past actions to hide because they know the employer doesn’t really perform this step.
3) An applicant fails to explain gaps in employment. In today’s market, many applicants are afraid or ashamed to report that they were laid off for fear that they will be judged by that. If this is the case, it can be gauged during an interview by simply asking the applicant about the gaps. However, another reason for tracking gaps in employment is for criminal background checks. Contrary to popular belief (or what you see on TV), there isn’t a national database for criminal records. These have to be run separately by state.
4) The applicant fails to give sufficient information on past employers for reference checks. While many applicants won’t keep track of phone numbers for HR to call, location and supervisor’s name is usually enough to track down a phone number or email address. Don’t bypass a past employer because you don’t have enough information to contact them. Many applicants will not give enough information because they don’t want you to contact their previous employer – which means there may be valuable insight you are missing. Beware especially when an applicant states they can’t remember their previous supervisor’s name. I can still remember my first manager’s name when I started working at 17 and I’m sure you can too! Past employment reference checks may only yield title and dates of employment, but the applicant doesn’t know that.
5) The applicant fails to give a reason for leaving a past job. That’s usually a red flag that they were terminated or asked to resign due to some performance issue. While this can be addressed during the interview, the omission should put you on alert to watch for how the applicant answers when asked in person. Do they fidget? Do they look like they are struggling to come up with an answer? Do they simply say “it was just time for me to move on?” All are reasons to be skeptical.
6) Simple as it sounds – lots of cross-outs and changes on the resume. That could be a sign that they are making things up as they go along and trying to cover up real reasons/information with what you will want to read.
While technology has greatly improved the recruiting process, making it easier for candidates to apply and recruiter s to screen, don’t loose sight of the “old school” tactics that can protect your company from future liability.
Some practices should never be replaced.