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How To Screen Job Candidates Effectively

December 1, 1995
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Don't let time and financial pressures rule the process.
Finding the time to thoroughly check candidates might be difficult. Spending $50 to $200 to have a candidate screened seems like a hefty sum—particularly when a company is hiring thousands of employees a year. But it's time and money well spent. If only a single violent incident is avoided or theft is curtailed, thousands—perhaps millions—of dollars can be saved. Moreover, reducing turnover, absenteeism and other problems pays huge dividends. Finally, remember that every applicant doesn't require a background check. Only the individual or persons seriously considered for the position.

Customize screening tools to fit your needs and situation.
There's no single template that can determine the right approach, since no two companies are alike. Consider the needs and concerns of your company and the type of position you're trying to fill. Learn about all available options so you can make an informed choice. And avoid screening methods that have no relationship to the job. For example, a credit check is almost always unnecessary for a truck driver or assembly line worker.

Verify information on resumes—and call the references.
Experts agree one of the biggest mistakes human resources recruiters make is not thoroughly checking resumes. Of course, many companies aren't terribly cooperative. But there are ways to dig beneath the surface and piece together a picture of who the candidate really is. "The questions that are asked are key," says Edward C. Andler, president of Bridgeton, Missouri-based Certified Reference Checking Company. So, choose your questions carefully.

Use structured interviewing, whenever possible.
Ask specific questions relating to skills and ask how an individual would react to a hypothetical work situation. Behavioral questions can provide strong clues as to how a person might react in a given situation. Written assessment tests also can provide insights.

Use professional services that have the expertise and resources to conduct a check.
Yes, it might cost a bit more up front, but firms that specialize in background and resume checks generally have the manpower and knowledge to dig beneath the surface.

Personnel Journal, December 1995, Vol. 74, No. 12, p. 92.

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