Streamlining the Recruitment Process Pt.2


The golden rule of recruiting is to not forget the basics – references, background checks and testing.

These are subjects I am passionate about. It is NEVER a waste of time to conduct thorough checks on a candidate.

You think your candidate is great, right, that they would never lie to YOU? Unfortunately 80% of candidates exaggerate claims in their resumes, with approximately 20% taking more creative liberty with qualifications that they do not hold, jobs they didn’t do and lengths of time with their employers.

Seeking a telephone reference is always preferable to just looking at written references.  I have never seen a bad written reference and I don’t know anybody who would feel comfortable putting negative feedback on paper.

It is not always possible to get two references from direct managers in the last couple of jobs a candidate has held (for a variety of reasons: boss moved on, company folded etc), but be wary of the candidate who has an excuse for why they can’t provide referees for too many roles.

One point I cannot stress enough is to verify that you are talking to a genuine referee (and not a mate, yes you would be surprised how many people try this). The easiest way to do this is by calling the business, rather than a mobile, and confirming the person’s name and job title with a receptionist before being put through.

You have a right as a prospective employer to enquire about any gaps in employment history, and also to confirm the employment periods and job titles a candidate has held in the past as these are material representations a candidate makes in order to get the job.

I have often called employers not listed as referees to confirm employment, only to be informed that the person never worked there, held a completely different title or the dates of employment were wrong. For many people going through this process might seem like overkill, you need to decide what is reasonable for your role, however I once discovered a candidate (accountant) had been in jail for fraud, and had covered it up by lengthening his employment history at a previous role.

If it is practice that you conduct criminal history checks, drug tests or medicals as a condition of employment, always be upfront with candidates at the beginning of the process. I have seen people suddenly decide the job they seemed so excited about was not for them after they were informed they would need to be drug tested prior to an offer being made.

Psychometric testing is also often used by employers to analyse a candidate’s suitability and potential in a role. It has a valuable place in recruitment and selection, however it’s important to ensure the testing is appropriate for the job. If your role doesn’t require a candidate to have advanced mathematical skills it is a waste of time and money to put them through a test that measures this ability – similarly, there is no need to put a candidate through the stress of a battery of unnecessary psychometric testing.

It is important to use more than one method (i.e. interview, testing and references) during the recruitment process to increase the probability that your new staff member will be successful in the role. This  table outlines the predictive success of independent methods, however success is greatly increased when you combine methods.

Finally, the most common reason we hear from candidates who have left their roles within 12 months is that their expectations in the role were not met.

If there is not much room for growth or the candidate will be expected to work long hours, it is best to be upfront because you want a candidate who will be happy in the job.

Going through the recruitment process may seem tedious, but hiring the wrong person is costly, financially and from a time perspective. On average the cost of getting it wrong is equal to the employee’s annual wage, but this can be far greater in sales or senior management positions.

The time you spend to safeguard your business and ensure you get the right person will be well worth it when you have  a happy and productive employee!

Kate Klease  was a former executive at Vantage Human Capital, a specialist recruitment and human resources consulting firm that helps ensure clients have appropriate strategies in place to successfully retain, motivate and manage their people.

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