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5 Tips for Screening Job Candidates

Despite being critically important, a thorough pre-employment background check may not be front-of-mind for small businesses. Here's why screening is important and how you can use this process to find the right employees.
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Screening job candidates is a critically important element of the hiring process. Effective screening can help minimize the risk of bringing on a bad hire. Effective applicant screening pre-offer and utilizing a post-offer, pre-employment background screening can help improving the quality of your hiring.

Effective screening may result in:

  • Hiring the best-qualified individuals for your open position
  • Minimizing employee turnover and related expenses
  • Limiting potential claims of negligence in hiring

Background screening solutions may include:

  • Checking references and verifying the accuracy of resumes;
  • Conducting criminal background checks where permitted under law;
  • Conducting in-depth background checks where permitted under law;
  • Running credit checks where permitted under law; and/or
  • Evaluating whether social media background checks or other advanced screenings are appropriate.

Keep in mind that there are applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations regarding background screening. Employers must comply with all the laws and regulations that are applicable to their business.

Here are five key tips for screening job candidates in your efforts to find the right employees for your business:

1. Implement a strong application and resume review process. Paychex HR consultant Kirsten Tornow emphasizes the value of having a strong process in place to screen applicants. "This is essential for weeding out applicants who fail to meet the basic requirements for a position, such as minimum experience or education." Skipping these steps to accelerate the hiring process likely isn't worth the headache of dealing with a poor hire.

2. Use automated systems to improve the process. "In the past, hiring managers needed to screen virtually all applications and resumes manually," Tornow notes, "but now the process can be automated with effective candidate management and application tracking systems." Applicant tracking software can:

  • Standardize processes for job postings, interview scheduling, and hiring workflows
  • Potentially lower the costs of a new hire
  • Enable applicants to apply how and when they want

3. Don't neglect telephone screening and reference checks. "Too many companies are quick to bring a candidate in for an in-person interview and then find out the candidate isn't a good fit," Tornow reports. "The candidate could be screened out during a 20-minute telephone interview and time could be saved by avoiding an onsite appearance."

Just as important is the need to thoroughly check a candidate's references. "Employers should take the time to call previous employers as well as other references provided, to confirm prior job performance and that the experience the candidate lists on their resume or application is accurate," Tornow adds.

4. Make clear in your job postings that a background screening process will take place where permitted. You can save time and expenses by clearly indicating in your online job postings that background checks will take place. Knowing of a pre-employment screening process could discourage applicants with a troubled history from applying in the first place.

5. Partner with an organization with in-depth job candidate screening resources. Small businesses may lack the comprehensive resources needed for a thorough pre-employment background check. In these cases, it's beneficial to partner with a firm that understands your company's background screening needs. Today's integrated HCM platforms can help support the process and integrate seamlessly with background check providers.

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