Archive for February, 2009

Small Companies Cannot Afford Bad Hires

Friday, February 27th, 2009

Bad Hires can Break up Great Teams

Bad Hires can Break up Great Teams

Even one bad hire can have a huge impact.  A friend recently shared the story of a “nightmare” she once worked with at a small Midwest company. At the time, small teams interviewed each potential hire, and the boss made the final decision based on the group’s evaluation. In the case of the “nightmare,” everyone liked and recommended her. Except my friend.

Turned out she was right. The candidate looked perfect on paper and interviewed extremely well, but proved to be a dividing force with a biting personality. No one could work with her and the boss stood by his decision for far too long. She wasn’t dealt with until several long-term employees had already resigned—but by then she had nearly destroyed the entire company.

It’s very easy to be deluded by a perfect-sounding resume and a charismatic interviewee.  The trouble starts when those factors alone make up the hiring decision. In my friend’s case, the employment offer was made before proper reference checks were performed. Oops!  Finally, my friend did some sleuthing into the “nightmare’s” background, and found she overstated her education and understated her experience.  Phone calls were made to former employers, who said they wouldn’t recommend or rehire her.  But by then, it was too late—the good people had already left.

The story sounded unbelievable, but was 100% true—and it happens every day. It proves how overlooked policies—in this case, checking all references—can lead to real disaster. 

An easy way to avoid bad hires is to require background checks on all applicants. You can verify education, previous employment, military service, even credit—in one easy step.  And in my friend’s case, the “nightmare” with the false credentials probably wouldn’t have agreed to the pre employment screening—a big red flag in itself!

Don’t risk your company’s security to a single bad hire. Make pre employment background checks a standard policy for every single hiring decision!

Running Background Checks on Employees

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Employee Screening

When almost half of all resumes contain false information, it is clear that you cannot depend on a job applicant’s honesty to help you make a hiring decision. Today, thousands of industries, such as government, financial, and child care, routinely verify potential employees’ backgrounds.

What does a typical screening cover?

  • Employment History
  • Education History
  • References
  • Earned Credentials/Licenses
  • Military Service

But any employer should consider employee screening to mitigate risk and ensure the safety of your entire staff. Your company’s reputation and finances are too valuable to put at risk with a bad hire.

Before you initiate a screening policy, be sure to do your homework to avoid breaking the law. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) covers employee screening, and you’ll need to follow its guidelines. See the Federal Trade Commission’s website for more information on the FCRA. Your state may also have its own consumer protection laws.

The National Association of Professional Background Screeners offers a downloadable guide to best practices in verification screening. This handy guide includes a glossary of terms, general guidelines and lots of helpful hints. And best of all, you can download a copy to your computer (or print out a hard copy) for free!

All employers can benefit from background verification. Don’t forget to check out our Pre-Employment Screening services to ensure that the candidate you choose isn’t hiding an inappropriate background.

8 Interview Mistakes Employers Make

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

Not all companies have hiring freezes and layoffs. The current economy presents opportunities as well as challenges: new businesses start up leaner and meaner during recessions, and companies that survive them come through stronger. Plus, there are plenty of highly qualified candidates looking for work right now. 


If you’re ready to hire and starting the interview process, steer clear of these common employer errors:


  1. Letting the interview get personal:  It’s nice to establish a connection with an applicant. But don’t let it become a personal conversation.  Keep on topic, stick to your questions and ensure your agenda—not the candidate’s—leads the conversation.

  2. Going in without a plan: If more than one interviewer is involved, decide who is covering which questions. You should look organized and professional, not haphazard and unprepared.

  3. Assessing the job applicant’s personality instead of their skills:  Related to number 1. It is possible to stay on topic and ask the right interview questions, yet still come away without knowing if the candidate is qualified. 

  4. Neglecting to perform pre employment screening: This includes background checks. Way too many applicants falsify their resumes, so be thorough in checking references and include a background check to protect yourself, your company, and your existing staff from potential harm.
  5. Failure to objectively evaluate interviewees: After the warm and fuzzy feelings of a positive interview have faded, perform a critical evaluation of each candidate. Assess proven skills, ability to fit in with your company’s culture, and previous successes. Each position in your company should have its own evaluation form.

  6. Skipping the pre interview: A simple ten-minute telephone interview will eliminate unqualified candidates and save everyone’s valuable time. Ask broad questions about experience and background, and ask about salary requirements. Most important, ask if they are willing to undergo a background check.
  7. Straying from established questions: Your company developed interview questions for a purpose. Use them, as written, to get the best results, save time and prevent potential legal issues.
  8. Asking illegal questions: Educate yourself! You are not allowed to ask about hobbies, family (how old are your children?), gender-related work issues (would you have a problem working for a woman?), or even where a candidate grew up. Any of these could show an illegal bias toward a candidate.


Proper planning, plus following procedures, are the keys to avoiding common interview errors. Don’t forget to check out our Pre Employment Screening services to ensure that the candidate you choose isn’t hiding an inappropriate background.


Painless Job Descriptions

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

Are you a small business owner who does not currently offer written job descriptions? Then it’s time for you to take a page from the big guys’ employee manuals and get started! Most large companies provide written job descriptions to all employees upon hiring.  If they’re smart, they also update them frequently as each position’s requirements and responsibilities change. Here’s a good rule to follow: if large employers are doing it, I probably should, too. 


Let’s see how we can make this less painful! 


There are lots of online resources you can check out. But essentially, the steps are pretty clear. Before you sit down to write, think about the skills each of your employees already bring to their positions. What is Joe’s best skill? Communication?  How about Lindy—she’s great at following up with customers.  And Gary is a top-notch web designer.  Include any required education level, experience, or certifications for each position. 


List all the specific skills that keep your company running at its best—whether or not all of your current staff possesses them. See where we’re going? Job descriptions can give everyone something to shoot for—and help you hire the best new employees, too.   


Now think of the tasks each person performs, and how often.  Here’s where specificity is important.  Does Jamie need to lift 50 pounds occasionally, or frequently? Does Matt stand on his feet for four hours every day?  Don’t forget you asked Nicole to expand her customer service duties to include sales calls once a week. 


Being specific when writing job descriptions will ensure that each current and potential employee knows exactly what his or her position requires—no surprises! This could prove vital if an injury occurs, or an employee files a complaint.  


Now, just make a list of each position in your company. Match the skills required and the tasks performed to each position, and you’re done!  Provide each employee with their written job description—you’ll probably receive many grateful replies. Employees work best when they know what is expected of them—and they appreciate you letting them know. Ask for their feedback in case you overlooked anything, and revise accordingly.   


Once you’ve written job descriptions, you’ll wonder how you ever got along without them!  


Don’t forget to check out our Pre-Employment Screening services. Increase your peace of mind and save training costs by hiring smart.

 Next post: 8 Inteview Mistakes Employers Make