GUEST POST: How Much Should You Really Know about Your Job Candidates?

Today we have a guest blogger at The Employer Handbook. It’s Amy Klimek.

Amy is an experienced HR recruiter and VP of Human Resources for ZipRecruiter, a company that simplifies the hiring process for small to medium size businesses. Prior to that Amy has held similar roles at, eBay and US Interactive. For Amy, corporate culture isn’t about dogs and free lunches, it’s about empowering employees and creating an enriching environment for people to excel.

(Want to guest blog on an employment-law topic at The Employer Handbook? Email me).

While looking for a job can be stressful, acting as the person who does the hiring has the potential to be as well. Not only do you have to go through all of the resumes and conduct interviews, but you also have to determine which features about your candidate you truly need to know.

Criminal History
You likely don’t want to delve too deeply into a prospective employee’s personal life, but you should know if the person has a criminal past. Failure to check into this type of information could leave you hiring someone who has a questionable character. Of course, people can change over the years, and some time in prison might have helped this particular candidate. On the other hand, if you are a jewelry shop owner, hiring someone who has been arrested a dozen times from robbing jewelry stores is probably not the best idea. [Editor’s Note: Remember that if you live in a state or city that has a “ban the box” law, you’re restricted as to when you can ask about past criminal convictions].

Ability to Work in the United States
This factor is one that you might take for granted. In fact, you might not even care if the person is legally authorized to work in the United States, especially when you tend to pay employees off of the books. However, if you hire someone who is not authorized to work in the United States, then you could be putting yourself at a risk. Make sure that the individuals whom you are considering have the right paperwork for the job before you go a step further and call them in for the interview.

Their Degree
When you are hiring for a position that requires a particular degree, you want to make sure the final pool of applicants all possess that degree. One way to make this process easier for yourself is to use application tracking software. If a particular resume does not indicate the degree that you list as a requirement in the advertisement for the job, then it can be automatically eliminated. When individuals do not meet the basic requirements for the job, as they are posted in the listing, you do not need to spend the time to go a step further.

Past Job Experience
Although a degree is important in an array of fields, the experience that a person has in a particular domain could take the place of a degree. Even if the individuals whom you are considering have degrees, you want to find out if they have any practical experience in the work force. [Editor’s Note: Most prior employers will only provide a neutral reference; i.e., dates of employment and last position held]. If this job is the first one that they are taking, then you will likely need to provide some level of extensive training for them. That does not have to be a bad thing; you just must determine if you have the resources available to do so.

Location and Transportation Information
When people fill out applications for the job, you do want to ask them where they live and if they have suitable transportation to the job. Taking where individuals live into account can be a risky call to make because a person might be very punctual even if he or she lives quite a distance away. However, you want to do the best that you can to verify that the individuals who are taking the job have the necessary transportation. If the person does not have a car and has little access to public transportation, getting to work on time is going to be very difficult.

Drug Testing
Not all types of businesses require drug testing, but in the event that you do, you should let people know early on in the interview process. In fact, including this information on the job posting is wise so that you can eliminate any candidates who use drugs right from the start. You will need the individuals to consent to the drug test, and you will need the proper equipment to do so. [Editor’s Note: And make sure to comply with any applicable laws]. On top of that, you will have to decide if periodic drug testing will be a part of the job, and you can let your candidates know.

Work Schedule Conflicts
Chances are, you know what the days and hours are going to be for the position. You also know if any overnight, weekend or holiday shifts will be required, and you need to make sure that the person whom you hire is able to meet the demands of the shifts. If the individual is already expressing a problem with the hours during the interview, then you can feel a sense of confidence that the schedule is going to continually cause problems for this person. It may be best to look for someone else then. [Editor’s Note: While employers need not broach the subject of workplace accommodations, if an applicant says that a disability or sincerely-held belief requires a scheduling accommodation, be prepared to engage in a good faith interactive dialogue to vet whether a reasonable accommodation does exist].

Generally, you do not need to conduct deep, investigative research into the lives of your potential employees, but you do need to know enough about them to know if they are a right fit for the job and a safe individual for the company.

“Doing What’s Right – Not Just What’s Legal”
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