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Employee Interview Process and Background Checks

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  • Pages: 8
  • Word count: 1883
  • Category: Employees

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     Locating the right employees for any organization can be a frustrating and costly element of running successful business.  Recruiting, hiring and training typically cost thousands of dollars per candidate for most organizations; therefore, when turnover reaches high level organizations must pay attention to their hiring practices by implementing extensive screening processes prior to hiring any individual.  Employers must look into the employee’s work history and attempt to flush out any inconsistencies to avoid hiring mistakes through thorough extensive interview processes as well as dig deep into his or her past through a thorough and extensive background check.

     The hiring process tool most widely used is the interviewing process – every organization uses some type of interview dialogue prior to making a hiring decision.  Many companies view the interview process “strictly as a data collection session” to determine whether the candidate possesses the specific skills and abilities required for the position in question.  Other companies use the interview process as an opportunity to introduce the applicant to the culture of the organization by scheduling face time with many of the current leaders, such as front line managers, directors and supervisors as well as facility tours and reviewing various company policies.    (Klinvex, O’Connell, & Klinvex, 1999, p. 86)

   The interview has at least five practical purposes to justify its existence and the structure of the interview depends upon the emphasis you place on any of the five.   The interview process must be conducted so that the decision makers can evaluate whether the candidate possesses ability to perform the job in question.   The applicant’s resume will provide much of the information on skills and abilities; however the questions must be constructed so that when answered this information can be validated.  This question/answer session is also for the purpose of evaluating the candidate’s over all fit for the position.  Unfortunately many times the most skilled individuals are not a fit for the actual position.  Organizations must choose employees that will actually thrive within the company’s culture.  The new hire interview process helps you determine how the candidate’s over all personality, likes and dislikes mess with the company’s environment.  (Klinvex, O’Connell, & Klinvex, 1999, p. 87)

     The new hire interview process is not only for the purpose of the organization’s determination as to the candidate’s fit for the position – this process is also for the candidate’s benefit.  Interviewers must provide a candid realistic preview of the position so that he or she can have an idea of what to expect.  Creating an interview that is filled with open discussion will allow the applicant to ask questions about any particular aspect of the position, which will ultimately discourage those who are not interested and encourage those who fit the position.   During this open dialogue interviewers must sell the open position to candidates.  Competition is intense for the best applicants; therefore, organizations must be sales professionals when it comes to recruiting quality employees.  Interviewers should share various selling points that are attractive such as benefits, career opportunities, retirement plans, training opportunities or tuition reimbursements.  It is imperative that interviewers do not oversell the position – as there is a point where candidates will begin to doubt an organization’s integrity. (Klinvex, O’Connell, & Klinvex, 1999, p. 87)

     The fifth purpose of the interview process is to provide the organization with a completed profile of the potential candidate.  Prior to the face to face meeting the only identifier for the specific applicant in question was his or her resume, cover letter and/or completed application.  This meeting is the perfect opportunity to follow up on any areas of specific interest the organization might have found significant as well as attempt to identify any items previously unnoticed.  (Klinvex, O’Connell, & Klinvex, 1999, p. 87)  The candidate’s behavior should be analyzed closely, as it provides subtle clues as to how he or she will behave in the future.  Interviewers must make an attempt to identify the applicant’s predominant behavior; therefore keeping a close eye on various reactions is imperative.  (Quinn, 2002, p. 20)

     A common misconception surrounding the new hire interview process is the belief that the interview itself is “little more than two people sitting down together having a conversation.”  (Arthur, 2006, p. 75)  As a result many interviewers fail to prepare for the exchange.  Interviewers must take the time to become familiar with the quality of applicant required for the position, whether he or she can communicate the job requirements clearly, as well as determine whether the position requirements are truly realistic.  Only then can an accurate review of the candidate’s experience and over all fit for the position be completed.  (Arthur, 2006, p. 78)  Other preparation imperative to the interview is a thorough review of the applicant’s resume and/or application so that a familiarity can be established with the person’s “credentials, background and qualifications as they relate to the requirements and responsibilities of the job.”  (Arthur, 2006, p. 89)  This will also help the interviewer identify areas for discussion during the interview.  Finally, interviewers should make sure that they are aware of the policies of the EEOC so that there is no chance of violating any rules and regulations put into place protecting applicants from discrimination.

     The interview process is vital in measuring employee qualifications, identifying inconsistencies or falsified information and assessing the candidate’s over all fit within the company culture – unfortunately it is not enough.  Many candidates have a tendency to add a bit of hype to their resume for the sole purpose of getting noticed.  For example, exaggerating their responsibilities at previous positions, leaving out previous positions where they were discharged for one reason or the other, increasing their over all GPA as well as claiming an educational degree that is false.  Candidates often interview extremely well and it is impossible for the organization to even sense that the information listed in the resume is false.  Employers must take measures to look further into the background of potential employees prior to hiring.    (Fleischer, 2005, p. 63)

     Background checks not only prove the potential employee’s reliability they also protect organizations from any type of third-party liability.  Many businesses have been held responsible for any “damages suffered by third parties due to an employee’s negligent conduct that occurs within the scope of the employment.”  (Fleischer, 2005, p. 67)  Many times these lawsuits name not only the employee and the employing organization but also the person directly responsible for hiring the particular individual.  When such events take place the courts often analyze the procedures businesses follow when hiring their employees, especially inquiring as to whether a background check had been performed on the employee prior to hire.  (Arthur, 2006, p. 112)

     The terms reference check and background check often get confused, however these are two very different processes.  The reference check is a basic evaluation of the candidate’s past job performance and this information is based upon conversations with previous supervisors and co-workers.  (Barada & McLaughlin, 2004, p. 2)  The background check is defined as “a threshold screening device – primarily useful in making sure the candidate has not lied on his or her resume or job application.”  (Barada & McLaughlin, 2004, p. 3)  This particular evaluation tool is a quick and inexpensive way for prospective employers to remove the candidates whose information does not match up with their resume and/or application.  (Barada & McLaughlin, 2004, p. 3)

     The type of information retrieved when performing a background check varies between organizations.  The standard items returned include employment verification dates, former and current job titles, educational credentials and all professional licenses obtained.   Many organizations, such as financial institutions or businesses that require employees to handle sensitive information or security, also perform a credit check, court/criminal background check, personality assessment tests and drug tests.  (Barada & McLaughlin, 2004, p. 4)

     Businesses that conduct background checks during the hiring process have to thoroughly consider the legal guidelines establish a solid and consistent background check policy and select a reputable vendor to perform the investigation.  It is imperative that businesses know what to ask and have guidelines established for releasing the information.    Federal law governs the information provided for the purpose of a background check as well as the information returned to the employer after the investigation.  (Arthur, 2006, p. 253)

     The Federal Trade Commission is the governing agency over the acquisition and use of all background information obtained on job seekers as well as employees.  Many individual states have laws regulating background investigations so it’s imperative that businesses are aware of their existence.  The FCRA requires that employers comply with three specific steps when they or a third party conduct a background check or any type of FCRA investigation. Employers must provide applicants or employees “a special notice in writing that they will request an investigative report and obtain signatures of consent.”  (Arthur, 2006, p. 256)  Organizations must also provide these individuals a summary of rights under federal law as well as provide the individuals with a copy of the report if it is requested.  (Arthur, 2006, p. 256)  Organizations requesting background checks must also certify to the vendor conducting the investigation that they will comply with all federal regulations by signing a form provided by the vendor.  Finally, employers must provide a copy of the report to the investigated individual should any adverse action be taken because of the results.  (Arthur, 2006, p. 257)

     Businesses requiring background checks as part of the hiring process should make sure that they communicate their policy clearly so that all applicants understand that they will be required to participate.  This policy should be clear and concise as well as visible to each applicant.  Many companies have their specific policy printed on the job application, for example so that all candidates see it upon application submission.  This policy should also state that any information obtained as a result of the background check will be used solely during the selection process and that confidentiality will be maintained.

     The background check is a valuable tool to establishing the validity of information applicants provide when submitting their application for employment.  Job descriptions that include working directly with client or company sensitive information as well as working with financial information, customers and vendors require that the chosen candidate have a clean background for the security of the organization.  These investigations not only provide the employer peace of mind, they can allow make the hiring process go must faster.


Arthur, D. (2006). Recruiting, interviewing, selecting & orienting new employees. New York: AMACOM.

Barada, P. W., & McLaughlin, J. M. (2004). Reference checking for everyone what you need to know to protect yourself, your business, and your family. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Fleischer, C. H. (2005). The complete hiring and firing handbook every manager's guide to working with employees legally. Naperville, Ill: Sphinx Publishing.

Klinvex, K. C., O’Connell, M. S.,  & Klinvex, C. P. (1999). Hiring great people. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Quinn, C. (2002). Don’t hire anyone without me! a revolutionary approach to interviewing and hiring the best. Franklin Lakes, NJ: New Page Books/Career Press.

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