Background checks, online searches and tests for candidates can be key practices when you’re hiring.
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Earlier this year, retail giant Target settled a $3.7 million discrimination lawsuit, as reported by USA Today. The suit alleged that Target’s criminal background-check process was biased against minority candidates. The litigation, spearheaded by the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, has since led Target to set up a process for the plaintiffs to either obtain jobs or receive a cash award.
The class action lawsuit centered around the experiences of two prospective Target employees. Both candidates were given conditional employment offers after their interviews, but following criminal background checks, the offers were revoked. According to reports, the background checks revealed misdemeanor convictions from more than 20 years before, on one candidate’s record, and a ten-year-old felony drug conviction, on the other’s.
The two main plaintiffs’ lawyers said those revocations violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars practices that have an unjustified and disproportionate impact on people because of their race or national origin.
Target’s reaction was that the events described in the case had taken place a decade before and that it has since improved its hiring practices. But the lawsuit still cost the retailer, in both financial and reputational terms.
The case illustrates why it’s vitally important for entrepreneurs and their hiring managers to reexamine their own hiring practices. Finding the right candidate for your open position is certainly important, but entrepreneurs hiring new employees must utilize tools beyond the typical criminal background check and interview.
A complete candidate-vetting process should include examining prospective employees from every angle. Here are a few things to keep in mind during the hiring process, including tips and resources to ensure your next hire is a perfect fit.
Background checks are still vital.
Despite the issues the Target case illustrates, background checks are still an integral part of the vetting process. But there are a few perils to the process entrepreneurs should know about, as outlined on the Lemberg Law website.
Before conducting a check, for example, hiring managers and entrepreneurs must explain, in writing, that they plan to use a candidate’s consumer report in their decision-making process. Hiring managers must also receive written authorization in order to obtain that report.
Then, once a hiring manager decides whether or not to hire the candidate, he or she must provide the candidate with a copy.If these procedures are not followed, the result can be costly penalties and potential lawsuits.
Goodhire touts itself as a trustworthy background-check service that entrepreneurs and business owners can use to vet future employees. And, there are hundreds of other services that provide value for entrepreneurs looking to conduct background checks for future employees, including these nine services provided by Fundera.
Search the candidate’s online footprint.
Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter can be ruthless places. Stories of people being fired after their employers have discovered those individuals’ past offensive or nefarious posts are commonplace. As a result, many employees are being more vigilant than ever about what they post online — and they should.
But social media accounts remain a useful resource for hiring managers vetting candidates, and are still an underutilized tool.
While everyone’s profile won’t include glaring red flags like racist language or other offensive material, many profiles do include subtle clues about a person’s attitude and work ethic. For example, someone who frequently posts pictures of himself or herself partying might not be a good fit for a straight-laced work environment.
Conversely, a person with an active social life might be a perfect fit for a job involving entertaining clients on a regular basis.
Similarly, a simple Google search of the person’s name can also prove valuable, providing information about a person’s previous employer, news articles and even old personal websites the person never took down. Context is important: An online search conducted prior to an in-person interview will help the interviewer ask the right questions.
Additionally, this hiring manager shouldn’t stop with first page Google results, but search on, through pages 2 to 5 to look for pertinent buried information. Negative content cannot be removed completely but can be buried on later pages, so it’s useful to keep digging when you’re trying to find information on a new hire.
Conversely, looking at Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn isn’t enough to glean information from a potential hire. It’s important to also search Instagram, AngelList and other social sites. AngelList shows a user’s work history and is a great indicator of how often a potential hire has changed jobs.
Quora is a tool that can show how a new recruit’s mind works. On Quora, a user answers various questions, and you can review all of the information and answers that person has posted.
Test the candidate.
Background checks, online searches and interviews can get hiring managers only so far. There are thousands of human resources horror stories of companies hiring employees who turned out not to be as advertised. Hiring may hinge to a large extent on a candidate’s level of honesty; and digging into a person’s past can reveal glaring issues. But other negative attributes such as personality flaws can be harder to suss out.
According to a 2014 report from the research and advisory consultant Gartner, 62 percent of human resource departments polled said they use personality tests to vet prospective employees. These kinds of tests give employers a deeper look at candidates; but of course, as anyone who’s ever taken a magazine quiz knows,you can easily figure out the answers that will impress an employer.
That’s a big reason why hiring managers are turning to integrity or honesty tests. These tests determine different things about an employee’s behavior, ranging, on the most serious end, from whether they may prove counterproductive or commit acts of “time theft” (taking long breaks) to whether they may commit actual theft (stealing company funds).
Finding an effective integrity tests involves some research; not all of them work as advertised. But, by utilizing this tool, hiring managers can gain valuable insight about prospective employees. Here’s a list of 14 personality tests, from The Muse, that can provide useful information.
Additionally, for positions that require hard skills, there are tools that any employer can utilize. For instance, to hire a developer, the recruit can be given an assessment test that tests his or her skills (like these coding tests offered by Mettl). This type of tests can prove invaluable and save an entrepreneur time, money and energy knowing what a recruit is capable of before hiring.
By using these tips and resources, entrepreneurs can ensure they are hiring employees who are a good fit for the company’s culture. The mantra that has never failed me is to fire fast and hire slow.
After all, an entrepreneur is only as strong as his or her team,and hiring the right candidate is the key to continued success.