Confirming the information presented on a candidate’s resume isn’t always as easy as talking through it during an interview. A number of surveys suggest that up to 85 percent of job seekers lie at some point during the hiring process. Of course, these lies can range from white to black, green, and everything in between.
Regardless of what the fib is, employers want truth— a shade of clear transparency that will help them make the appropriate decisions.
Taking all this into account, many employers implement background screening processes to help them gather actionable information about their candidates. A large part of such a process involves verifying important information with past employers, references, and educational institutions. Many verification companies such as Peopletrail, allow employers to customize questions specific to their needs. But what questions should be asked?
When your screening provider reaches out to a candidate’s past employer, there is much more opportunity beyond simply confirming employment dates. Here are some questions you may want to consider including in your employment verification questionnaire:
- How would you say this individual faired when it came to time management?
- Did this individual ever cause undue stress in the workplace?
- How would you describe the teachability of this individual?
- Was this individual generally helpful?
- How would you describe this individual’s day-to-day attitude?
- Was work generally completed how and when it was asked to be?
- Was there ever a time when you took or considered disciplinary measures against this individual?
- Would you let this individual rejoin your staff?
Professional references are a good way to achieve a higher-level understanding of a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses as they pertain to various work environments. Here are some questions to consider asking:
- What are some of this individual’s strengths?
- What are some potential weaknesses?
- In what capacity have you worked professionally with this individual?
- Would you trust this individual as a member of your staff (speaking hypothetically)?
- What types of roles would you consider hiring them to fill (speaking hypothetically)?
- How would you see this individual fairing in leadership roles?
- Are you aware of any past issues in this individual’s professional relationships?
While personal references don’t often provide much in the way of valuable professional insight, they are a good way to learn more about a candidate’s character and habits. Here are some helpful questions to include on a personal reference questionnaire:
- To what capacity do you know this individual?
- How would you describe this individual’s personality?
- Would you say you generally trust this individual?
- What helped build this trust?
- Would you describe this individual as generally introverted or extroverted?
- How would you describe this individual’s ability to make and maintain friendships?
- Do you ever find yourself in arguments with this individual?
Admittedly, many education verifications are strictly fulfilled through online means. However, some institutions will be able to speak more specifically about a student’s educational career. If that’s the case, here are some productive things to ask:
- Was the student involved in any extracurricular activities?
- What were the student’s general attendance patterns?
- Was there any disciplinary action (related to academics or otherwise) taken against this student?
Residence and Landlord
Renting out property to another individual is a big commitment and can carry both positive and negative consequences depending on the tenant. When contacting past landlords as part of a tenant screening process, here is some information you may want to gather:
- Were payments made punctually?
- Was communication clear and productive, when necessary?
- Were there ever any issues or complaints you are aware of relating to this tenant?
- Was the tenant generally kind and respectful?
- Did the tenant ever threaten to take action against you (the landlord)?
- Would you rent to this tenant again?
Verifications can be a very important way to glean trustworthy insights if they are carried out correctly. The questions asked as well as the methods of obtaining information have a significant bearing on overall effectiveness. Make sure you formulate your verification questionnaires thoughtfully, communicating with your screening partner what is most important to you. That alone will go a long way in giving you the transparency you need to build a dependable workforce.
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