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Pre-Screening Your Employees: What You Should Know

When looking for qualified candidates, many employers use pre-screening to ensure the candidate is reliable and trustworthy. Many pre-screening techniques verify that the candidate is being honest about their job experience and qualifications. By knowing common pre-screening techniques and the best practices to use, employers can find the most qualified candidate for the job.

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Common types of employee pre-screening

Pre-screening is a step employers take to verify the credentials of a job candidate. Employers also may use it to conduct a background check to see if a candidate has a criminal history. Employers use pre-screening to find candidates that are trustworthy and would be a good fit for their workplace.

Employers often contract outside organizations that specialize in pre-screening to do these checks. Likewise, some government agencies help with background checks.

Here are common types of employee pre-screening:

  • Credential verification
  • Credit history
  • Criminal history
  • Education verification
  • Employment verification
  • Motor vehicle records
  • Personality and skills assessment
  • Reference check
  • Social security verification
  • Worker’s compensation history

Credential verification

For jobs that require a special license or certification, employers often run a background check to ensure the candidate actually received their credentials. Additionally, employers verify that the credentials are current.

Credit history

Employers may determine the reliability of a candidate based on their credit score. This is especially true for positions that require the candidate to handle the business’s finances.

Criminal history

Employers check a candidate’s criminal history to make sure they are only hiring candidates that are trustworthy and safe to work with.

Drug testing

Drug testing is used to determine how trustworthy a candidate is. Many employers want a drug-free workplace to avoid workplace injuries and legal issues. They also want candidates who show up to work ready to be productive.

Education verification

Many jobs require a certain level of education, so employers want to make sure candidates were honest about where they graduated, what they studied and what their GPA was.

Employment verification

Employers want to make sure candidates’ resumes truthfully reflect their job history. Employers will typically call each of the workplaces listed on a candidate’s resume and ask if the candidate worked there and the length of employment. Employers may also confirm job titles and work responsibilities.

Lie detector tests

Only certain businesses can legally conduct lie detector tests for pre-screening employees. Consult state and federal laws before using this method.

Motor vehicle records

For positions that require employees to drive company vehicles, employers will typically check job candidates’ motor vehicle records to ensure they don’t have excessive or outstanding traffic violations.

Personality and skills assessment

Personality and skills assessments are a series of questions candidates answer to determine if they have the right personality and skill set for the position. Oftentimes, these tests can help determine a candidate’s morals or values as well.

Reference check

Many employers require candidates to list three references. Acceptable references are previous employers, professors or respected members of the community. References should somehow be related to the position. During a reference check, employers ask about the candidate’s work ethic, previous responsibilities and any other information that would help the employer’s hiring decision.

Social security verification

This is used to check if the social security number the applicant provided is accurate. Then the social security number is used to conduct other background checks.

Worker’s compensation history

Employers want to verify the employee can carry out their position and may check if they had any previous work accidents.

Best practices in pre-screening

When using pre-screening techniques, employers must follow a certain protocol to be in accordance with the law. Use these best practices when pre-screening job candidates:

  • Inform candidates of all pre-screening
  • Use the same pre-screening process on all candidates
  • Give candidates a copy of their background check
  • Destroy background checks after use

Inform candidates of all pre-screening

Prior to conducting any background checks or other pre-screening methods, you must inform applicants of exactly what you will be doing. People have the right to know if a background check or drug test will be administered ahead of time. Check federal and state laws to ensure your business is working within the parameters of the law.

Use the same pre-screening process on all candidates

There are discrimination laws that prevent employers from discriminating on the basis of a person’s race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, disability and age. When pre-screening applicants, you must screen for the same things to ensure everyone is given a fair chance at employment.

Give candidates a copy of their background check

If the background check provides information that prevents you from considering a candidate, you must provide them with a copy of the background check. This gives the candidate a chance to correct any inaccuracies of the report or to work toward clearing their record.

Destroy background checks after use

After using the background check, you must completely destroy it so no one else can find the candidate’s private information. This could be done by shredding, burning or pulverizing the report.

Related:How to Hire Employees: A Step-by-Step Guide

Pre-screening FAQs

Employers can use many pre-screening techniques to ensure they are hiring the best candidate. Here are some frequently asked questions about pre-screening:

What is a pre-screening interview?

A pre-screening interview is used by employers to rule out unqualified candidates before taking the time to formally interview them. This is often in the form of a phone interview and lasts 20-30 minutes. This gives employers a chance to learn an overview of the candidate’s work experience and qualifications. It also gives employers an insight into the candidate’s personality.

Alternatively, you can try conducting virtual interviews instead of phone screens. This allows you to actually see the candidate and learn from their body language.

How do I conduct a pre-screening interview?

When conducting a pre-screening interview, first you should contact the candidate via email to schedule a time to talk. Let them know that it will be a brief interview to get a better idea of their qualifications. Let them know the estimated length of the interview and who the candidate will be talking to.

Related:Interview Questions and Answers

What questions do I ask during a pre-screening interview?

Ask candidates the following questions:

  • What interests you about our company?
  • Why did you apply for this position?
  • What are your salary expectations for this role?
  • When would you be able to start a new role?
  • Tell me a little bit about yourself.
  • Do you have any questions about this position?
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