New Hiring Pitfalls to Watch Out For

With the approaching holiday season, organizations may be looking to add staff.  Unless you’re new to your job, you’ve probably done some interviewing and hiring and may be comfortable with your processes and ability to bring in new staff.

As with all processes, it never hurts to review them to be sure they are current, effective and comply with any changed regulatory conditions. Recent trends may cause you to reconsider some of the ways you conduct your interviewing and hiring activities.

Resume fraud: If candidates for high profile positions like the CEO of Yahoo or the head football coach at Notre Dame University do it, you can bet lots of others embellish their resumes (or outright lie!).  Statistics vary but you can assume that some percentage of candidates have created resumes or provided applications with:

  • Information that is misleading
    • Claims of false degrees
    • Altered employment dates
    • Inaccurate job descriptions
    • Inflated salary claims
    • Falsified references

Take the time to verify employment and educational credentials if they are required qualifications for the position.  Ask interview questions to uncover places where a candidate might have stretched the truth.

Interview questions: Although you may be an expert in what’s legal to ask and what might open you up to claims of employment discrimination, be sure you’ve trained anyone else who interviews for you about what can and can’t be discussed in an interview. It may be tempting to break the ice with questions about family or other interests, but if the conversation reveals protected information (even if volunteered by the candidate), it can come back to bite you.  Keep all questions job-related to be safe.

Social media information: After it got a lot of bad press a couple years ago, I doubt anyone is requiring candidates to reveal their Facebook passwords so the prospective employer can check them out, but it isn’t uncommon these days for hiring managers to check out candidates on Google, Facebook or LinkedIn.  Savvy candidates know enough to scrub their profiles for any information that may harm their chances for future employment, but they might not remember to remove information about groups they may belong to – religious, health, political or social information that may be protected under Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines and may not be appropriate for prospective employers to consider in making hiring decisions.

I don’t generally check out Facebook, but I do look at LinkedIn for some positions and usually Google the companies a candidate has worked for.  I discovered that one candidate’s most recent employer was part of Colorado’s legal medical marijuana industry.  I didn’t make an employment decision based on that information, but it was helpful to have so I could ask questions about the job’s responsibilities in the challenging field he worked in.

Background checks: If resumes can be falsified and you have to be careful about social media sites, using a service to check someone’s background is a good idea, right? Except that one firm recently agreed to pay a $2.6 million fine for failing to ensure the accuracy of the information it was providing.  Accusations against background screening firms include confusing people with similar names, listing one offense multiple times and failing to get updates that may show previously reported information was inaccurate or has been changed.  In addition, if you require credit checks, you will want to show why that information is related to the position you are hiring for (restaurant servers who handle customer credit cards may need to be screened, but the restaurant dishwasher or marketing intern may not).  And a new Fair Credit Reporting Act notice will be effective in 2013, so be sure you are using the right forms.

E-Verify: I’ve used this system for years and find it quick, simple and reliable.  Incorporate this into your other on-boarding activities if you haven’t already.  It’s no more cumbersome than getting a completed W-4 or emergency contact information and it can save you from being the subject of an audit later on. You don’t need to be an expert on immigration issues to use the system, and if you have any government contracts (check with your state as those rules vary), you may be obligated to use it.  In Colorado, the Division of Labor also requires an Affirmation of Legal Status form (recently updated for October 2012) in addition to the I-9 confirmation.

The amount of effort you put into formulating the job description, posting it, screening and interviewing, plus the months of training to successfully on-board a new employee are just some of the challenges in recruiting and hiring the right candidates. You can make it a whole lot easier on yourself by paying attention to your process.  You can have confidence that you’re following the law and making good decisions.

By, Nancy Lane, Human Resource Manager at Red Book Solutions and B2A, LLC – 30 years of experience in education, medical imaging, oil & gas and business services.

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2 responses to “New Hiring Pitfalls to Watch Out For

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