Recruitment Questions of the Week

Multicolored wheel divided into 7 equal sections Recruitment, Training and Development, Benifits and Compensation, Communicating, Employee Relations, Recordkeeping, and Health safety and security with Legal compliance written on the outer edge and company strategy in the center, recruitment is emphasized

Are Social Media Background Checks Legal?

Question:

Should my company conduct social media background checks as part of our recruitment process?

Answer:

When a hiring team considers using social media background checks on potential candidates, they should first assess the risk of performing these checks and proceed with caution. Social media profiles often include information such as:

  • Age,
  • Race,
  • Gender,
  • National Origin,
  • Religion, and
  • other protected classes.

Previewing this protected information can lead to an assortment of legal trouble if hiring decisions are made or appear to be made based on social media checks performed by someone that has the ability to impact the hiring decision.

Another item to be aware of is protected activity. For example, if a candidate was criticizing his or her former employer on social media and a hiring decision was made based on those comments, it may be considered protected concerted activity under the National Labor Relations Act.

In the past, some employers have requested social media user names and/or passwords to access the information this way. However, many states are now making it illegal for employers to request this information.

This only skims the surface of the potential workplace compliance issues that could arise by conducting social media checks on potential employees. If you are going to use social media as a tool in your recruiting process, it is generally a good rule not to handle social media background checks internally. However, if you still feel a candidate’s social media can help you in your recruitment process, you need to identify job related information that you hope to gain from the check (i.e. writing skills, consistency of job titles and dates), AND have someone that is not at all involved in the hiring decision (i.e. another employee or an external service or consultant) conduct these searches. This way, you will be able to obtain the information you need, without the perception of discriminating against your candidate.

 

Recruitment isn’t just a matter of finding and hiring the right person. There are scores of regulations that must be adhered to or you risk stiff fines or penalties. strategic HR, inc. specializes in helping companies find, hire, and retain a talented workforce while keeping an organization compliant. Visit our Recruitment page to learn how we can help you hire safely.

 

Multicolored wheel divided into 7 equal sections Recruitment, Training and Development, Benifits and Compensation, Communicating, Employee Relations, Recordkeeping, and Health safety and security with Legal compliance written on the outer edge and company strategy in the center, recruitment is emphasized

Requiring a Formal Education for a Job

Question:

Have you considered not having a formal education requirement for your current job openings?

Answer:

Throughout the past couple of years, many companies have been moving away from having a formal education requirement to get a job with their organizations. If you think about it, how much of your college education do you use in your daily work? The trend originated in the IT industry. Companies found that they were cutting off large portions of the talent market by having a formal education requirement.  Many of the skills that they were looking for were found in candidates that were not old enough to go to college or that were self-taught. When it became obvious that there was valuable talent in the recruiting world that was being ignored, other business sectors started following suit.

A Fistful of Talent article notes that the head of HR for Penguin Random House, Neil Morrison, used extensive hiring analytics and found that degrees had no correlation to the quality of hire and performance level in their organization. While a formal education can provide much needed skills for certain positions, companies are finding that with the tightening talent pool, using a formal education requirement as a primary filter may be too encompassing in the selection process. Ultimately, it comes down to finding people who come to work ready to work.

 

With today’s high unemployment there are lots of job seekers, but only one is going to be the right “fit” for your job opening. It takes a targeted approach using the right message, the best resources and lots of follow up to find that “needle in a haystack”. It can be expensive when not well thought-out, but when done correctly doesn’t have to break the budget. strategic HR, inc. knows what it takes to attract, hire and retain the best employees. Whether you need a complete recruitment solution or just help with pieces of your process, we can assist you. Visit our Recruitment page to learn how we can provide you with top notch recruitment assistance.

Multicolored wheel divided into 7 equal sections Recruitment, Training and Development, Benifits and Compensation, Communicating, Employee Relations, Recordkeeping, and Health safety and security with Legal compliance written on the outer edge and company strategy in the center, recruitment is emphasized

In my recruitment strategies, can I really text a candidate?

Question:

Sometimes, in my recruitment strategies, I have such a hard time getting candidates to respond to my calls and emails.  A colleague asked if I had tried texting?  Can I really do this?  It seems intrusive.

Answer:

In a word, yes.  Especially if a good candidate is not responding to other means.  Texting is a ubiquitous part of our everyday life, why not use it in your recruitment strategies?  The fact is that many people are more likely to check messages on their mobile phone and keep it nearby.  A text may get their attention when a voice message may not.  If you do so, I would offer some parameters:

  • Make sure and identify yourself.
  • Keep it brief but professional.
  • Your goal should be to engage in a dialog/conversation; craft your message carefully to gain the best response.
  • Consider the right time of day to text someone; where texting is more immediate, is it appropriate to text a candidate in the evening or early morning?
  • There are also web-based phone options that will also allow you to text, which can avoid using your personal cell phone.

It’s a very tight job market, and a recruiter must use every tool available to reach candidates. The world has changed and our recruiting tactics to keep up.

With today’s high unemployment there are lots of job seekers, but only one is going to be the right “fit” for your job opening.  It takes a targeted approach using the right message, the best resources and lots of follow up to find that “needle in a haystack”.  It can be expensive when not well thought-out, but when done correctly doesn’t have to break the budget.  strategic HR, inc. knows what it takes to attract, hire and retain the best employees.  Whether you need a complete recruitment solution or just help with pieces of your process, we can assist you.  Visit our Recruitment page to learn how we can provide you with top notch recruitment assistance.

 

 

Multicolored wheel divided into 7 equal sections Recruitment, Training and Development, Benifits and Compensation, Communicating, Employee Relations, Recordkeeping, and Health safety and security with Legal compliance written on the outer edge and company strategy in the center, recruitment is emphasized

Recruiting Reality Check

Question:

A couple of my hiring managers are disconnected from the reality of our current labor market – they still want to compare several top candidates before making a decision. We’re losing great candidates because it’s taking too long to try to find more candidates to compare. How do I help them understand we need to move smarter and faster?

Answer:

We understand your frustration, and you’re not alone! Since you’re in the trenches of daily recruiting, you know firsthand how quickly great candidates are getting snatched up by competitors who are able to move faster in their selection process. You probably also noticed that it’s more difficult to find viable candidates for many positions because the available labor pool is small. According to the Southwest Ohio Region Workforce Investment Board’s latest unemployment statistics (September 2016), unemployment for the Greater Cincinnati area is 4.1%.

We can no longer post job openings and expect to be flooded with resumes. Rather, recruiters have to spend more time sourcing to identify viable passive candidates. Once we find those candidates, we need to move them through the selection process quickly or we risk losing them altogether. All of this combined heightens the need for a fast and efficient recruiting and selection process with the ability to make quick, astute hiring decisions.

So, how do you explain the reality of today’s labor market to your hiring managers? If sharing the points above doesn’t help, maybe you can try a new angle. Have you ever noticed the similarities between the recruiting process and house hunting? Ask them to recall how they approached house hunting, which often goes like this:

Step 1: You go into house hunting with a huge list of “must haves” that you simply cannot live without – just as we do when recruiting for an open position.

Step 2: You see the houses currently available on the market, which may not be nearly as many as you had hoped for, nor do they have all of your desired features. (Where are the granite countertops and hardwood floors?!) But you need to find a house, so you forge ahead to step 3!

Step 3: You do a bit of soul searching to refine and prioritize your “must haves” list to identify what’s truly most important to you and determine what you’re willing to live without or change/update yourself. (Everybody likes a DIY project, right?)

Step 4: Act fast and call in your offer immediately before someone else snatches up your next soon-to-be dream house! (You’ve learned this because it happened with the last two houses you tried to buy, but took too long to decide upon, and lost them to other buyers. Meanwhile, those other savvy buyers are already hosting their new housewarming parties!)

If you apply the lessons learned during the house hunting experience to your recruiting and selection process, you know you need to:

  • Be accurate in defining the role you’re looking to fill and the “must haves” versus “nice to haves.” Make sure your job descriptions are up to date too!
  • Assess the current pool of potential candidates and connect with them quickly.
  • Readjust expectations and “must haves” if the labor market doesn’t meet all of your criteria. Determine critical skills needed to start, and what could possibly be trained.
  • Move fast on strong candidates; even if you don’t have several to compare. Don’t let your desire to shop around cause you to lose a great potential employee.
  • Celebrate knowing that you did your homework, understood the market and made a smart, fast new hire!

Hopefully, this gives you a new angle for your recruiting conversations with your hiring managers. Building a strong, trusting relationship with your hiring managers will be invaluable as you navigate the waters of recruiting in today’s labor market.

Finding qualified employees for your business can be one of the most difficult and time-consuming HR functions. strategic HR, inc. has a wealth of knowledge concerning current trends in the job market as well as where to go to find the key staff you need for your company. We have the know-how, the contacts and the tools needed to get your job search up and running. Whether you need to fill several on-going job openings, or have a hard-to-fill position that’s been zapping your energy, allow strategic HR, inc. to do the work for you. Find out how our Recruitment Solution can help you with all stages of the recruitment process.

Multicolored wheel divided into 7 equal sections Recruitment, Training and Development, Benifits and Compensation, Communicating, Employee Relations, Recordkeeping, and Health safety and security with Legal compliance written on the outer edge and company strategy in the center, recruitment is emphasized

The Importance of Social Media in Recruiting

Question:

I have heard that I really need to focus on social media when I am recruiting for employees.  Is that really the case?  I don’t personally know anyone who has been recruited for a job through a social media site and find it hard to believe.

Answer:

According to a presentation conducted by Rachelle Falls at the Ohio SHRM conference (Fall 2015), the recruiting statistics for Social Media continue to rise.  According to Ms. Falls, 80% of people are being recruited through LinkedIn, 50% on Facebook, and 45% Twitter. Instagram is up and coming quickly as well.  A 2014 Social Recruiting Survey (https://www.jobvite.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Jobvite_SocialRecruiting_Survey2014.pdf) agrees, stating in their report that 73% of recruiters have hired a candidate through a social media connection.

In order to capture those hard to get candidates, it is essential that you make social media a significant part of your recruitment process.  Without it, you could be missing the ‘perfect candidate’.

Recruitment is more than just placing an ad in the newspaper. It takes a targeted message using the right sources and lots of follow up. It can be expensive when not well thought-out, but when done correctly doesn’t have to break the budget. Strategic HR, inc. knows what it takes to attract, hire and retain the best employees.

Multicolored wheel divided into 7 equal sections Recruitment, Training and Development, Benifits and Compensation, Communicating, Employee Relations, Recordkeeping, and Health safety and security with Legal compliance written on the outer edge and company strategy in the center, recruitment is emphasized

Hiring Policy Regarding Individuals with Felonies

Question:

Our company has a hiring policy that we do not consider an applicant if they have been convicted of a felony.  I know I can’t discriminate if they have only been charged but we wait until they have an actual conviction.  Is that okay?

Answer:

Legally, this is not a good policy to have unless you are in an industry that requires the passing of such background checks (i.e. – schools or child care facilities) or are in safety sensitive positions that require the checks (i.e. some security, national defense type positions).  Plus, many states and cities have discrimination laws that make it illegal to disqualify a candidate based on their criminal history.  You may have seen state and federal initiatives to “Ban the Box”.  Although controversial, the spirit of the legislation is to be inclusive and to consider all applicants.  In addition, the EEOC has written guidance on the topic that states that questions regarding arrests in general are improper unless there is a job specific reason AND the employer can show that the conviction is a problem for the position being applied for.

Aside from the legal response, it is safe to say that eliminating this pool of applicants could reduce the number of candidates to consider and could possibly eliminate an OUTSTANDING candidate who may have made a ‘misstep’ in their past.  We aren’t here to judge, but rather make sure the individuals we bring into the workplace are the best people for the job.  The National Employment Law Project estimate that 70 million US adults have criminal records.  Do we want to eliminate them from our pool?  In our labor market, companies should give great consideration to remaining open to individuals with criminal histories that have been rehabilitated.

All that said, employers still must be diligent in looking at the criminal history and ensuring there is a fit with the job at hand AND do their best to ensure there is no threat to the safety and security of their employees and customers, but an automatic dismissal from consideration is not a just action.

Interviewing is more difficult than it can seem. strategic HR, inc. knows that asking the right questions can help you find the best Talent, and asking the wrong questions can leave you with loads of trouble. That’s why we have experts to help you with your recruitment. And we have resources to help you with functions such as Recruitment – take our Legal Recruiting Questions desktop reference for example. This handy reference provides your hiring managers with the right (and wrong) questions to ask in an interview – all in one useful document.

 

Multicolored wheel divided into 7 equal sections Recruitment, Training and Development, Benifits and Compensation, Communicating, Employee Relations, Recordkeeping, and Health safety and security with Legal compliance written on the outer edge and company strategy in the center, recruitment is emphasized

Hiring Ex-Sex Offenders

Question:

I am open to the idea of possibly hiring someone with a past record as a sex offender.  Will this be a concern to my employees?  What do I need to think about before bringing them on board?

Answer:

When it comes to hiring ex-sex offenders, companies should walk into the situation with eyes open, educating themselves while being open-minded to the many benefits the hire can bring to the table.  Not only can you bring benefits to your organization, you will be helping the individual by offering employment and stability to those looking for an opportunity in the working world.

While sex offenders should have just as much of an opportunity to employment as anyone else, there are questions that an employer must address before hiring these individuals, based on their criminal past.  It is essential to ensure that they are able to perform the essential duties of the job and ensure that they have no restrictions on their employment.  Some ex-offenders are faced with restrictions such as working with minors, or having access to a computer and/or internet, and employers will need to work with the offender in order to find a suitable position that meets these requirements, if that is possible.  Open and honest communication with the individual will help you to meet these requirements.  Other considerations:

Consider relevant factors

Relevant factors that should be considered include the type of offense, the number of offenses that have occurred, rehabilitation efforts, and length of time it has been since the offense.

 Is the offense job related?

While it is easy to justify not hiring a sex offender “just because”, employers should be open minded and think about if the offense could potentially affect the job to be done. If not, then the applicant should be considered like any other.

Do I still feel like I am providing a safe work environment for my employees?

The most important thing you should consider when considering hiring an ex-sex offender is if you are still providing a safe and comfortable work environment for yourself and other employees.  This answer can vary based on your opinion about sex offenders, but employers should keep an open mind and take into account all of the factors that go into hiring someone with a criminal background. Keep in mind that applicants should always have a chance to explain their criminal background.

Finally, keep in mind that if you do hire someone with a record, your company may be eligible for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, which is a Federal tax credit that is available to employers who hire and retain individuals from target groups that face considerable barriers when it comes to finding a job, like sex offenders.

 Do you struggle to find qualified individuals that fit your culture and make productive, long-term employees? Finding the right person to “fit” a job is a critical HR function. That’s why strategic HR, inc. utilizes a variety of resources to help clients source, screen and select the best candidates and employees. Please visit our Recruitment page for more information on how we can help you effectively and efficiently find your next employee.

Multicolored wheel divided into 7 equal sections Recruitment, Training and Development, Benifits and Compensation, Communicating, Employee Relations, Recordkeeping, and Health safety and security with Legal compliance written on the outer edge and company strategy in the center, recruitment is emphasized

Recruiting Etiquette

Question:

This is supposed to be a tough job market with too many job seekers and not enough jobs. I would think job seekers would be extra careful about their business etiquette. But I’ve called and emailed would-be candidates to the point of “stalking” with no response – how many times should I try before giving up?

Answer:

Both sides of the fence, job seekers and recruiters, have been complaining about the lack of business, or more specifically recruiting etiquette, these days. Seems that all camps are presently unhappy with the current state of things.

When contacting applicants it is most common to try multiple times and ways to reach them.  Whether the applicant sends in a resume or they are sourced via another method, you should call or email as the first contact, wait a day or two, then follow up with the opposite of how you first attempted contact (call if email was used as the first contact method or vice versa), then wait a few more days before making a last contact using the original method (call or email). Simplified it looks like this:

Email – Call – Email     <or>     Call – Email – Call

Depending on the time frame of the search, this contact process might span a few days or as much as a week or two. This method of contact allows for multiple approaches (in the event the email gets caught in spam) and multiple times (in the event that you catch them on vacation and unavailable).  This will provide adequate opportunity for a truly interested applicant to respond.

If none of these approaches work, before you give up on an applicant entirely, be sure to look at surrounding circumstances that might impact a speedy response time. Did you contact the applicant around the holidays?  Could their message be in YOUR spam folder?  Do they work on an off-shift that makes connecting with you problematic?  Make sure you provide them with alternate ways to get back in touch with you!  Privacy concerns may be an issue so be sure to be discreet if necessary and respect the applicant’s need for discretion. And, when possible, be patient.

strategic HR, inc. provides a variety of resources to help you find the help you need. We offer outsourced recruiting, on-site contract assistance or contingency placement. We can create a plan that’s custom fit for your specific recruitment needs. Please visit our Recruitment page for more information.

 

Multicolored wheel divided into 7 equal sections Recruitment, Training and Development, Benifits and Compensation, Communicating, Employee Relations, Recordkeeping, and Health safety and security with Legal compliance written on the outer edge and company strategy in the center, recruitment is emphasized

Resume Fraud

Question:

I have read that over 50% of people lie on their resume or job application.  How can I make sure I am not hiring one of those individuals?

Answer:

According to a 2014 online Harris Poll conducted by CareerBuilder, 58% of hiring managers said they have caught a lie on a resume.  Whether it is an all out lie about their education or resume padding of dates or experience, there are ways to  “spot” a lie and ensure the person you are bringing onboard is honest and trustworthy.

1.  Spend the money and do a background check.  Verify education, positions, and dates of employment that are listed.  IF it is important that the person have a degree, it should be worth checking to ensure it is true.  If it isn’t important…get rid of it as a job requirement.  Verify, verify, verify.

2.  Google it.  Google is not stalking, it is research to verify accuracy in their resume.  Make sure the companies that are listed are in fact companies with locations where the individual reported to have work.  Make sure the college even exists and offers degrees in the field your applicant indicates they have.  Now remember, Google isn’t perfect but it is the first step in determining if something doesn’t seem ‘quite right’.

3.  Interview them, in person.  It is so much easier to hide behind a computer than to lie to someone face to face.  Sure, people can still lie to you but it will be easier to see their body language and reaction to your questions in person.

4.  Test them.  If someone is embellishing their computer skills, it is easy to do a quick test on their technical skills.  In box exercises are another example of tests that can be conducted to determine if they have the skills necessary for the role.

Are you going to catch all of lies?  No, probably not, but you should at a minimum conduct due diligence on the issues you feel they are important attributes / experiences for the individual’s success on the job.

Strategic HR, inc. understands the complexity and pitfalls of hiring. From applicants to candidates to prospects, we know the ins and outs of sourcing, screening and selecting your next new employee. For more information on how we can help you fill your job openings efficiently and cost effectively, visit our Recruitment page or contact us at Info@strategicHRinc.com.

Multicolored wheel divided into 7 equal sections Recruitment, Training and Development, Benifits and Compensation, Communicating, Employee Relations, Recordkeeping, and Health safety and security with Legal compliance written on the outer edge and company strategy in the center, recruitment is emphasized

Temporary Employees and Background Checks

Question:

We had a fabulous temporary working for us from a temporary agency. We decided to hire the individual and ran them through our process including conducting a background check. The results were shocking…we thought the temporary agency had already verified their background. How should I handle this going forward to ensure this doesn’t happen again?

Answer:

Many companies do treat temporary employees differently when it comes to background checks and only realize it when it’s too late – when they try to hire the individual. The staffing company said they ran a “background check” before they placed the individual with you, but when you compare the results of your own verification versus the staffing company’s, it hits you: If you would have run your own background check first, instead of relying on the staffing company’s, you would never have considered the individual in the first place. Now what???

Unfortunately, this situation is all too common. For some reason, employers allow temporary workers into the organization without knowing anything about the “background check” the staffing company performed prior to coming to work for your organization.

Did they just run a database search? Maybe they just entered the employee’s name in a local county records website or just Googled the person. Or, even more disturbing, maybe they didn’t research the person at all!

The term “background check” is very broad. When working with temporary employees, make sure your staffing company is running quality courthouse background research before you let them place temporary personnel with your organization.

Here are some tips:

  1. Ask to see the reports! Don’t assume that you and the staffing company agree on what constitutes a “background check”. Chances are that you don’t and your standards might be significantly higher. Set the expectations on what screenings you want them to run.
  2. Make sure your searches include county criminal research. County research is the best place to find if a felony or misdemeanor charge exists for an individual and also helps ensure legal compliance with FCRA.
  3. Don’t be fooled by a “federal” search. This check certainly has a place, but can be misleading. It sounds all-encompassing but most crimes are state crimes, NOT federal. Most people who have a criminal past would come back clean on a federal search.

If you currently run pre-employment screenings before you bring someone onboard, you already know the importance of this verification process. Don’t put your company and employees at risk. Make sure employees from staffing companies meet the same expectations as direct hires.

A special thanks to Matt Messersmith, President, with Signet Screening inc. for his expert contribution to our Question of the Week. If you have questions for Matt, contact him at MtM@signetscreening.com or 513.330.6695 or visit Signet’s website at www.signetscreening.com.

Does the thought of hiring someone make your head spin? Perm, temp, temp-to-perm, intern…drug screens, background checks, physicals, references, assessments – we can help you make sense of it all. Whether you need a complete recruitment solution or just help with pieces of the process, strategic HR inc. can assist you. Visit our Recruitment page to learn how we can provide you with top notch recruitment solutions.

Wheel - Recordkeeping

Keeping Electronic Recruiting Correspondence

Question:

Much of our recruiting is now done online and via email. Do I need to keep the emails generated from our last round of hiring? Does it matter if the candidate followed through with a response or not?

Answer:

You need to keep any records from the search for one year – those that you were considering AND those that you were not (even those that applied but may not have followed through with a response to your email). Keeping them in an electronic file is great – date it and pitch it next year. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) requires employers to keep employment records for one year. After that time, employers can either discard the record or archive it, provided they maintain the confidentiality of information contained in each record. Suppose you have a resume, cover letter, list of references and brief notes from a telephone screening, yet you decided to select other candidates for in-person interviews. The records generated, including electronically, during the course of the preliminary screening are, in fact, hiring records. They must be kept for one year, pursuant to EEOC regulations.

Another important reason to keep hiring records on file even if the applicant wasn’t hired is so applicants don’t have possible recourse if they are rejected during the hiring process. Applicants who claim they weren’t hired based on factors not related to the job (i.e, race, sex, national origin, age or religion) have up to one year to file a formal discrimination charge with the EEOC. Should the EEOC decide to investigate the applicant’s complaint, the agency can ask employers to produce records used during the hiring process. The company’s hiring practices don’t look favorable if the employer can’t comply with the request because it has discarded the hiring materials.

Employment recordkeeping does not rank high on the list of favorite human resources functions, but it is vitally important. What you keep can be as detrimental as what you don’t keep in some instances. Avoid the fines and minimize your stress level by having strategic HR, inc. assist with your recordkeeping compliance. Visit our Recordkeeping page to learn more about our services.

Multicolored wheel divided into 7 equal sections Recruitment, Training and Development, Benifits and Compensation, Communicating, Employee Relations, Recordkeeping, and Health safety and security with Legal compliance written on the outer edge and company strategy in the center, recruitment is emphasized

Following Up With Candidates

Question:

It seems like when I run a job posting more than half of the candidates I receive are not even minimally qualified. What do I do with these candidates and how do I get a better response in the future?

Answer:

This is definitely a challenge in today’s job market and requires a two-part response. To your first question the hiring process is never easy, and finding the perfect candidate can be a challenge. If the candidate was interviewed but not selected, it is extremely important that you send them a letter notifying them of your decision. Doing this is beneficial to both you and the candidates. Notifying someone that they did not get the job is respectful; it allows them to “move on” and continue their job search. This can help establish you as an employer of choice – a company that treats both their employees and prospective employees with respect. You should also keep in mind that current interviewees may be future customers of your business or know someone who already is. Sending a candidate a letter can be good for your reputation as a business as well as an employer.

If you are worried that you simply don’t have the time to write and send a candidate letter, consider that doing so will actually help you organize your recruitment process, which will save you time in the long run. By telling interviewees that you will follow up with them either way, and then doing so in a timely manner, you’ll have fewer calls and emails to respond to. Also, once you get a basic letter written, it will take very little time to personalize before sending it out to each candidate.

Some important things to consider when writing the letter are:

  • Address the candidate by name, and try to personalize the letter as much possible.
  • Always thank them for their time, effort, and interest. It’s nice to include a heart-felt compliment, such as “Your qualifications were impressive.”
  • State the reason why they did not get the position. Generally, the reason given is that the position has been filled by a candidate whose credentials were better suited to the position. There is also nothing wrong with simply stating that the position has been filled.
  • Describe the company procedure, if there is any, regarding keeping resumes on file, or you may offer the applicant the opportunity to apply for future positions. Of course, only do so if you are sincere.
  • Wish the applicant well in their future job search.
  • If you are sending the letter by regular post, always include your signature.

It’s important to keep the letter brief, and remember to be honest, kind and tactful. Finally, be sure to send the letters out quickly after making your decision, but not so quickly that the candidate feels like you didn’t give them fair consideration (2 – 3 days post-interview is a good rule of thumb).

A well-thought out hiring process helps you better target candidates and how you treat current candidates definitely has a positive impact the response you get with future searches.

Do you struggle to find qualified individuals that fit your culture and make productive, long-term employees? Finding the right person to “fit” a job is a critical HR function. That’s why strategic HR, inc. utilizes a variety of resources to help clients source, screen and select the best candidates and employees. Please visit our Recruitment page for more information on how we can help you effectively and efficiently find your next employee.

Multicolored wheel divided into 7 equal sections Recruitment, Training and Development, Benifits and Compensation, Communicating, Employee Relations, Recordkeeping, and Health safety and security with Legal compliance written on the outer edge and company strategy in the center, recruitment is emphasized

Religious Requirements For Hiring

Question:

When hiring for my religious-based organization is it legal for me to require candidates be of the same religion?

Answer:

While religion is protected under Title VII, there is a Religious Organization Exemption that permits religious organizations to give employment preference to members of their own religion when hiring. This exemption only applies to organizations that can ‘define’ their religious association through articles of incorporation, religious day-to-day operations involving services, products or education (such as a church or school), non-profit status, or an affiliation with or support from another religious organization.

This exemption does not allow religious organizations to discriminate on the basis of age, gender, race, color, national origin or disability – even when the religion has, as a tenet of its beliefs, an element of discrimination (such as not associating with people of other races).

If your organization has a “purpose and character that is primarily religious” then you can prefer to hire individuals that meet your religious needs.

Recruitment isn’t just a matter of finding and hiring the right person. There are scores of regulations that must be adhered to or you risk stiff fines or penalties. Strategic HR, inc. specializes in helping companies find, hire and retain a talented workforce while keeping an organization compliant. Visit our Recruitment page to learn how we can help you hire safely.

Multicolored wheel divided into 7 equal sections Recruitment, Training and Development, Benifits and Compensation, Communicating, Employee Relations, Recordkeeping, and Health safety and security with Legal compliance written on the outer edge and company strategy in the center, recruitment is emphasized

Planning for H-1B Visa

Question:

Last year we missed out on obtaining a petition for an H-1B Visa.  Any thoughts on what I should do this year to make sure I get one?

Answer:

Many U.S. businesses use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields, including scientists, engineers, and computer programmers. The H-1B visa category is critical to businesses wishing to employ foreign nationals in these professional positions. Each year the government makes available 65,000 new H-1B visas (referred to as the “H-1B cap”) for individuals who have not recently or ever previously held H-1B status. These may include students in F-1 status who are completing Optional Practical Training (OPT), Canadian or Mexican professionals in TN status (nonimmigrant NAFTA) or employees transferring for a short time from an affiliated company abroad in L status. It is especially important for employers of F-1 students to obtain the H-1B in a timely fashion. In addition to the 65,000 “regular” H-1B visa numbers made available each year, an additional 20,000 H-1B numbers are set aside for individuals who have obtained a Master’s degree or higher from a U.S. institution.

Not surprisingly, there is a high demand for H-1B visas, so it is smart that businesses are working now on their strategies to obtain needed visas. Last year, the Fiscal Year 2014 quota of H-1B visa petitions was met within the first week in which petitions were accepted (on April 5, 2013). Demand exceeded the available number of visas by nearly one-and-one-half times and a regulated lottery was held to determine which applications would be accepted. This year demand is expected to be even higher! If the number of H-1B petitions received within the first week of April exceeds the number of available visa numbers under the H-1B cap (as is very likely), all filed petitions will be entered into a random computerized lottery by the USCIS to determine which of them will be considered for review. To ensure that your company’s H-1B petitions have a chance to be considered for FY2015, they should be filed by the first day of the season, April 1, 2014. While it is never possible to guarantee that a petition will be accepted under the lottery, a timely filing will allow you to make sure that you do everything possible to secure a cap number for your employees.

VISAs, EADs, I-9s – it’s an alphabet soup of acronyms and rules pertaining to the hiring of a foreign national. It can be confusing, even to the experienced HR professional, if you aren’t familiar with the process. That’s where strategic HR, inc. can help. We know the legal DOs and DON’Ts of hiring – so let us assist you. Visit our Recruitment page to learn more about how we can help.

Multicolored wheel divided into 7 equal sections Recruitment, Training and Development, Benifits and Compensation, Communicating, Employee Relations, Recordkeeping, and Health safety and security with Legal compliance written on the outer edge and company strategy in the center, recruitment is emphasized

Hiring Individuals Granted Asylum

Question:

Can I legally hire someone who has been granted political asylum?

Answer:

Yes…as long as they have the proper paperwork. Individuals entering the United States seeking protection / asylum are able to remain in the U.S. and apply for asylum within one year of arrival. These individuals are not eligible to apply for permission to work (employment authorization) in the U.S. at the same time they apply for asylum. They are, however, able to apply for permission to work after 150 days of their asylum application if they are still awaiting a decision on their application.

Individuals granted asylum may work immediately. Some asylees choose to obtain Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) for convenience or identification purposes, but an EAD is not necessary to work for asylees. Follow this link to determine how to properly complete the I-9 form for an asylee and what identification is needed by the Department of Homeland Security.

VISAs, EADs, I-9s – An alphabet soup of acronyms and rules pertaining to the hiring of a foreign national. It can be confusing, even to the experienced HR professional, if you aren’t familiar with the process. That’s where strategic HR, inc. can help. We know the legal DOs and DON’Ts of hiring – so let us assist you. Visit our Recruiting page to learn more about how we can help.

Multicolored wheel divided into 7 equal sections Recruitment, Training and Development, Benifits and Compensation, Communicating, Employee Relations, Recordkeeping, and Health safety and security with Legal compliance written on the outer edge and company strategy in the center, recruitment is emphasized

Measuring Recruitment Performance

Question:

I need to measure our recruiting performance and develop a metric to do so. How do I set that up and what would I measure?

Answer:

Since there isn’t a universal formula for calculating recruitment costs, you will need to determine what costs you want to track and attribute to your hiring efforts. There are many direct and indirect costs that you may consider including in the calculation. Below are some of the basic costs that you should consider:

  1. Sourcing
    • Costs incurred to source for candidates using print ads, online job posting boards, and/or resume banks.
    • Be sure you divide the cost of these sources by the number of positions you are filling that use the source on order to have a true cost for a specific hire.
  2. Screening
    • Costs associated with the time and expense for your staff to handle and review resumes and applicants for a particular position, including:
      • Administrative staff time to open, respond, and route resumes to the hiring team. To calculate this time, figure out an average cost per resume and track how many resumes are received for each job to calculate the administrative cost per job.
      • Hiring team/recruiter time spent screening through resumes and following up as needed. Similar to administrative costs, this can be calculated per resume/applicant to determine an average cost.
    • Be sure to track time spent on preliminary phone interviews or prescreens. Look at how many were conducted and the time spent by the recruiter to prepare, conduct, summarize and communicate the results of those interviews.
    • Do you have an automated applicant tracking program? This is an indirect cost that you may choose to pro-rate across your hires for a specific period of time, somewhat like depreciating a new computer on your taxes.
  3. Interviewing
    • Costs associated with the interview including time spent scheduling interviews and travel expenses or accommodations for the hiring team or interviewee that were reimbursed.
    • Remember to calculate interview costs to include the number of staff members involved in the interviews, their time spent per interview and the number of interviews they attended to determine the average cost of the interviewers’ time.
  4. Hiring
    • Includes time and expense associated with the follow-up with candidates during negotiations and to notify those that were not hired.
    • Cost of referral fees from a recruiting agency or an employee referral.
    • Relocation costs for the new hire to relocate. Some costs may include moving company, airplane tickets, hotel accommodations, temporary housing, house hunting visits, assistance with sell/buy, or spouse/dependent assistance.
    • Cost for background investigations and/or reference checks and drug screens.
    • Incentives or sign-on bonus for the new employee.
    • Think about all the costs to bring someone on board, such as orientation, mentoring, benefits enrollment, computers, cell phones, uniforms, etc.

Not every hire will incur all of these expenses. And, your organization may choose not to track some of these costs, but this list is a starting point to help you identify your recruitment costs per hire. The key is to identify what recruitment costs you are going to track and then consistently track them for all your hires to have an internal comparison from one hire to the next.

There are other measures you need to consider as you evaluate the overall success of your recruiting and what you can do better next time.

      1. How long did it take to fill the position from start to hire date? What could you have done to reduce the time to hire and not have impacted the quality of the hire?
      2. What was the impact on productivity while the position was left vacant? This is a very difficult calculation to conduct especially depending on the position. However, it does have an impact on the hiring manager and the organization as a whole. If it can’t be quantified, at least keep it in mind.
      3. How satisfied was the hiring manager / organization with the hire? This assessment can be done following the hiring but should be repeated again 3-6 months after the employee has been on the job to get a real sense of how successful the hire was.

Be sure you review your cost analysis and each of these other measures to identify what you can capitalize on next time and what you need to do different. For example, what was the success of your recruitment sources? Which ones provided the most candidates and more importantly the quality candidates? Which ones did not?

Recruitment is more than just placing an ad in the newspaper. It takes a targeted message using the right sources and lots of follow up. It can be expensive when not well thought-out, but when done correctly it doesn’t have to break the budget. Strategic HR, inc. knows what it takes to attract, hire and retain the best employees. Visit our Recruitment page to learn how our services can help you get your recruiting on the right track.

Multicolored wheel divided into 7 equal sections Recruitment, Training and Development, Benifits and Compensation, Communicating, Employee Relations, Recordkeeping, and Health safety and security with Legal compliance written on the outer edge and company strategy in the center, recruitment is emphasized

Personality Tests Prior to Interview

Question:

Is it okay to ask candidates to take an on-line personality profile before anyone from the company talks to the candidate? Only those candidates who “pass” the profile will move forward in the process. I’m concerned that using such a test to screen candidates could be legally questionable.

Answer:

Generally speaking it is not recommended to conduct a personality assessment as the first step in the recruitment process, as personality fit is only one factor in the hiring equation. Any assessment used for hiring purposes needs to rely on the bona fide occupational qualifications (BFOQ) of the position. Additionally, the test itself needs to be proven reliable and valid for testing those BFOQs. There are many pre-employment tests sold that are loaded with inappropriate questions – questions not necessarily linked to the necessities of the job. If the assessment can be shown to be related to the skill needs of the position and it is administered to all the applicants equally for that position then it should be okay. But when talking about personality assessments, that’s another matter.

While many large corporations use such tests as part of their initial on-line screening, if the test has not been vetted and causes a disparate impact (i.e. has a detrimental impact on one group of applicants versus another group), this can cause major legal headaches. What happens, for example, if the test results are deemed voided? Should the employer not rely on them at all? If the employer does not rely on them, what about the applicants that did well on the test – do they have a possible legal claim along with the applicants who did not get hired? These instances often give rise to very expensive lawsuits with lots of publicity – the New Haven firefighter case decided in 2009 by the Supreme Court is a great example.

If a personality test “must” be done, it would be best to do so only after hire, as a tool to help guide management in building a relationship with the new employee, or it should only be administered to final candidates as a tool to help distinguish between candidates; not select a final candidate. A personality profile isn’t something that should be used as a tool for hire, unless it can be shown to be job related. And it should never be THE tool to determine if a candidate is hired or not, but one of many tools.

Regarding the legal risk associated with using such a test, this is a very complicated legal area, and can easily give rise to litigation. You should check with your legal counsel before using such a test.

Strategic HR, inc. understands the complexity and pitfalls of hiring. From applicants to candidates to prospects, we know the ins and outs of sourcing, screening and selecting your next new employee. For more information on how we can help you fill your job openings efficiently and cost effectively, visit our Recruitment page.

Multicolored wheel divided into 7 equal sections Recruitment, Training and Development, Benifits and Compensation, Communicating, Employee Relations, Recordkeeping, and Health safety and security with Legal compliance written on the outer edge and company strategy in the center, recruitment is emphasized

Applicant Follow Up

Question:

When I post a job, I get 400 applicants…Do I really need to follow up with every person who applied for the job?

Answer:

Well, you could just ignore them. Talk with the applicable ones, select your candidates and choose your new hire – DONE. But you may just have alienated 399 potential customers. And in the marketing world, it’s like the old Faberge shampoo commercial where one person tells two friends, and they tell two friends and so on, and so onwell, you get the picture. Today that concept is called viral marketing and when the viral message is bad it’s like a deadly virus spreading out of control. And like a virus, there is no easy fix – you just wait it out and hope it doesn’t get worse.

Appropriate follow-up and closure is essential to creating a satisfying recruiting process. Not every applicant will win one of your job openings, but that doesn’t mean that they all should have bad feelings about employment with your company. We spend a lot of time and money on marketing and advertising in an effort to create a good consumer image about our products and services. It’s a shame that a company will obliterate all that hard work and expense with a small misstep like ignoring a job applicant.

Simply put the recruitment process IS closely linked to customer relations and customer satisfaction. Becoming an employer of choice is no easy task. But effective customer relations, with would-be employees or would-be customers, are fairly easy in today’s technological world. Most of those 400 resumes you received came through email or online. You probably have email addresses for 98% of the applicants you received. It just makes sense then that you utilize email as your communication tool.

When an applicant sends their resume make sure they receive an acknowledgement thanking them for their interest. This can often be accomplished with an auto-reply email; while it’s not personalized warm and fuzzy, it does let the applicant know that their resume has reached your hands. Likewise, when the position is filled, send out another mass-email letting all applicants know the position is no longer available. Providing closure will let the applicants know to move on, and in some cases, free up your staff from continual follow-up with applicants wanting to know their status.

Remember today’s employment market is tough on both sides. Making connections and keeping up relations will be key to connecting with passive candidates for future openings. And you just never know who will tell someone about your job opening or company, good or bad.

Recruitment is a critical HR function. Strategic HR, inc. knows that finding and keeping talented employees is the key to company survival. That’s why our Talent consultants utilize a variety of resources to help clients source, screen and select the best candidates and employees. Please visit our Recruitment page for more information on how we can help you effectively and efficiently find your next employee.

Multicolored wheel divided into 7 equal sections Recruitment, Training and Development, Benifits and Compensation, Communicating, Employee Relations, Recordkeeping, and Health safety and security with Legal compliance written on the outer edge and company strategy in the center, recruitment is emphasized

Checking Applicants Against Terror List

Question:

Are employers required to check applicants against a terrorist list prior to hiring them?

Answer:

Not necessarily, and it depends on the industry in which you work.

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) publishes a list of names called the “Specially Designated Nationals List” (SDN) that contains lists of names of people and/or companies whose assets are blocked by the US National Government and it is “generally prohibited from dealing with them.” This list is over 500 pages long and contains several common names (depending on the nationality and origin of the person/company) with very few details that would allow a hiring manager to discern between them (i.e. specific address, date of birth, etc.). Visit the US Department of Treasury Resource Center for links to this information.

So, what is your alternative? A good second option would be to conduct a background check and use a third-party vendor who offers to check names and information against this established list. By doing this, it takes the guess-work out of your hands and leaves the verification to someone else who is familiar with this type of work.

However, as stated above, while it isn’t necessarily a requirement to check applicants against this list, and the chances of encountering an individual or company who is on that list is generally low, it definitely depends on what industry you work in. If, for example, you work as a hiring manager for the US Government in the National Security Department, then, YES…check the list. If you work for any national security agency or business where you are dealing with the US Government, it would be wise to review the list or at least employ a company whose background check capabilities can reliably do it for you.

Strategic HR, inc. provides a variety of resources to help you find the help you need. We offer outsourced recruiting, on-site contract assistance or contingency placement as a few of our options. We can create a plan that’s custom fit for your specific recruitment needs. Please visit our Recruitment page for more information.

Multicolored wheel divided into 7 equal sections Recruitment, Training and Development, Benifits and Compensation, Communicating, Employee Relations, Recordkeeping, and Health safety and security with Legal compliance written on the outer edge and company strategy in the center the outer edge is emphasized

Asking Candidates About Felonies

Question:

Am I allowed to ask a candidate about previous felonies during a pre-screen or job interview?

Answer:

Inquiries about convictions may be made if the convictions reasonably relate to job qualifications and if the conviction or release from prison occurred within the last 10 years. This restriction does not apply to law enforcement agencies and state agencies, school districts, and businesses or other organizations that have a direct responsibility for the supervision, care, or treatment of children, mentally ill persons, developmentally disabled persons, or other vulnerable adults.

Employers should use caution, especially when considering arrest records. The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) takes the position that it is a violation of Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act to base an employment decision solely on an applicant’s arrest record. According to the EEOC, employers may rely on a record of a criminal conviction only if it is related to the job.

Hiring is more difficult than it can seem. Strategic HR, inc. knows that asking the right questions can help you find the best talent, and asking the wrong questions can leave you with loads of trouble. That’s why we have experts to help you with your recruitment. And we have resources to help you with functions such as Recruitment – take our Legal Recruiting Questions desktop reference for example. This handy reference provides your hiring managers with the right (and wrong) questions to ask in an interview – all in one useful document. Visit our Recruitment page to learn more.

Multicolored wheel divided into 7 equal sections Recruitment, Training and Development, Benifits and Compensation, Communicating, Employee Relations, Recordkeeping, and Health safety and security with Legal compliance written on the outer edge and company strategy in the center, recruitment is emphasized

On-The-Job-Training Assistance

Question:

We just hired a new employee to start last week. She was laid off from her previous employer in April 2012. She will be part-time (3 days a week) per her choice; we offered her full-time. Are we or she eligible for the federal program that offers on-the-job training or has that opportunity expired?

Answer:

Unfortunately in your case, you have already hired the candidate and are ineligible for the program. However, the program still exists and would be a great resource in the event you still have hiring to do.

On-the-Job Training (OJT) is a federally funded program that helps employers hire and train job seekers for long-term employment. This is an opportunity for an employer to work with the local One Stop Career Center system to recruit, pre-screen, and hire new employees, and to train them in the specific skills they will need to help your business thrive. The employer is reimbursed some of the cost of training, and the decision to hire will boost the economy by creating opportunity.

The process is fairly simple: Your local One Stop Career Center will need to pre-qualify the job seeker by having them visit and meet with a caseworker to determine eligibility. They also need to contract with the company and create a training plan to determine how many hours of training the candidate would need to get them up-to-speed on the tasks of the position. All these i’s must be dotted and t’s crossed prior to the start date of the new employee. The Career Center pays half their salary during the course of the needed training up to $8k. This is a program designed to help companies who are hiring dislocated or under-employed job seekers and to give the company that little nudge if they are thinking of hiring and would like a bit of help with the cost involved.

In the Greater Cincinnati area you can contact Workforce One at:

  • Butler County 513-785-6500
  • Clermont County 513-943-3000
  • Warren County 513-695-1130

Visit the DOL site for more information at: http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/training/index.htm.

Don’t miss out on opportunities to ease the burden of hiring. In today’s tough job market there are many opportunities to tap into publicly-offered resources – it’s all about knowing what’s available and where to look. Let strategic HR, inc. use our expertise to tap into those resources and find you the perfect candidate today! Visit our Recruitment page to learn how we assist with hiring you next employee.

 

 

Multicolored wheel divided into 7 equal sections Recruitment, Training and Development, Benifits and Compensation, Communicating, Employee Relations, Recordkeeping, and Health safety and security with Legal compliance written on the outer edge and company strategy in the center, recruitment is emphasized

Creative Recruitment Solution

Question:

Do you have any tips on a new creative way to attract candidates to our company during the recruiting process?

Answer:

Try a recruitment video. Jennifer King, in her article, Employment Branding and Recruiting Videos: 3 Companies That Do It Right, shares the following information.

CareerBuilder customers receive a 34% greater application rate when they add video to their job postings. But what do those videos convey about the company’s employment brand?

I’ve seen plenty of recruiting videos, and there’s one thing that makes one stand out from the rest: a strong employment brand.

A recruiting video is a great tool to establish and strengthen your employment brand, or the way prospective applicants, candidates and employees perceive you as an employer, as Gallup defines the phrase.

Companies that effectively use video to promote their employment brand do so by showcasing their employees and work environment in the most realistic way possible. If jobseekers can visualize what it would be like working at your company, you’re likely to attracta pool of enthusiastic applicants who truly know what they’d be getting into.

To convey an authentic employee experience, companies should focus on showing their true colors in their recruiting videos. Here are three videos that do it well.

Zendesk provides a complete view of the company to give the audience a realistic yet entertaining look at the organization. The video highlights some of the small details, like the elevator, the door greeter or the company mural, to add some rich color to the personality and culture of Zendesk.

The Rackspace video also gives potential candidates an authentic view of the company by letting employees tell their story in a less scripted way.

HubSpot’s recruiting video also showcases its employees and work environment to shape the employment brand. This video also shines more light on the people who work at HubSpot as they’re filmed talking about the tools they use and the projects they’re working on.

What do you think of these examples? Hopefully they will help you think about your own employment brand and how you can use video to convey the employee experience.

Our thanks to Jennifer King for her insightful answer to this hard question.  Jennifer is an HR Analyst for Software Advice, a company that compares and reviews HR software. Read the full article on her HR blog.

Recruitment is a critical HR function. Strategic HR, inc. knows that finding and keeping talented employees is the key to company survival. That’s why our Talent consultants utilize a variety of resources to help clients source, screen and select the best candidates and employees. Please visit our Recruitment page for more information on how we can help you effectively and efficiently find your next employee.

Multicolored wheel divided into 7 equal sections Recruitment, Training and Development, Benifits and Compensation, Communicating, Employee Relations, Recordkeeping, and Health safety and security with Legal compliance written on the outer edge and company strategy in the center is emphasized

Importance of Diversity

Question:

Why is diversity so important in the workplace?

Answer:

Diversity is important in the workplace for a variety of reasons.  First, let’s take a look at the general definition of diversity in the workplace: having an organization that employs individuals whose ethnicity,  gender, background, experiences, abilities, skills, age, and opinions are varied.

So, why is this so important?  Well, according to UC Berkely in Why Diversity Matters,

There is evidence that managing a diverse work force can contribute to increased staff retention and productivity. It can enhance the organization’s responsiveness to an increasingly diverse world of customers, improve relations with the surrounding community, increase the organization’s ability to cope with change, and expand the creativity of the organization.

In a global marketplace, a company is more likely to be able to meet the needs of its customers and gain access to new markets with a diverse workforce.  Bringing in talent into the workplace whose experience or background pertains to these new markets can be an efficient solution to accessing these markets as different skills, e.g. language or understanding of cultural norms, are often required to break initial barriers to entry.

The Center for American Progress lists the Top 10 Economic Benefits of Diversity in the Workplace as the following:

  1. A diverse workforce drives economic growth.
  2. A diverse workforce can capture a greater share of the consumer market.
  3. Recruiting from a diverse pool of candidates means a more qualified workforce.
  4. A diverse and inclusive workforce helps businesses avoid employee turnover costs.
  5. Diversity fosters a more creative and innovative workforce.
  6. Businesses need to adapt to our changing nation to be competitive in the economic market.
  7. Diversity is a key aspect of entrepreneurialism.
  8. Diversity in business ownership is key to moving our economy forward.
  9. Diversity in the workplace is necessary to create a competitive economy in a globalized world.
  10. Diversity in the boardroom is needed to leverage a company’s full potential.

Finally, diversity in the workplace helps employers comply with legislation that protects individuals from discrimination.  When employers are legally compliant with these laws, the likelihood of employees pursuing legal action due to discriminatory activities by the company decreases (smallbuisness.chron.com, The Importance of Diversity in the Workplace).

 Recruitment is a critical HR function. Strategic HR, inc. knows that finding and keeping talented employees is the key to company survival. That’s why our Talent consultants utilize a variety of resources to help clients source, screen and select the best candidates and employees. Please visit our Recruitment page for more information on how we can help you effectively and efficiently find your next employee.

Multicolored wheel divided into 7 equal sections Recruitment, Training and Development, Benifits and Compensation, Communicating, Employee Relations, Recordkeeping, and Health safety and security with Legal compliance written on the outer edge and company strategy in the center, recruitment is emphasized

Sponsorship Not Available

Question:

Our company is not able to provide sponsorship to candidates wanting to work legally in the United States and needing an H1-B Visa. How do we word this on our employment ads to avoid problems?

Answer:

With the proliferation of social media and recruitment being conducted online, job ads that are posted on the Internet can attract candidates that do not reside in the United States. For some companies, particularly small ones, it can be a financial hardship for a company to sponsor or transfer an H-1B Visa for employees who require an employment Visa to work legally in the U.S. We were advised by an attorney to use the following language:

“Applicants must be authorized to work for ANY employer in the US. We are unable to sponsor or take over sponsorship of employment Visa at this time.”

Recruitment isn’t just a matter of finding and hiring the right person. There are scores of regulations that must be adhered to or you risk fines or penalties. Strategic HR, inc. specializing in helping companies find, hire and retain a talented workforce while keeping an organization compliant. Visit our Recruitment page to learn how we can help you hire safely.

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Reasonable Non-Compete

Question:

What considerations need to made in order for a non-compete agreement to be reasonable?

Answer:

It may seem ironic that companies encourage innovation and brilliance while employees are on the payroll, but they pull the plug on that ambition if employees dare to leave. But non-compete agreements attempt to do just that:  to control damage.

Whether signed when staff members come on board, or as part of a ream of paper presented as they leave, non-compete agreements have similar restrictions. An employer lays claim to any products, intellectual property and ideas developed while on the job. And customers or clients handled while a staff member was employed by the company are also generally off-limits.

Courts have tried to balance the interests of employers and departing employees in deciding whether or not a non-compete agreement should be upheld. In order to hold up, here are three areas in which the agreement must be reasonable:

  • Time. You obviously can’t restrict a former employee from competing forever. The time period considered reasonable is one to three years. Sometimes this period is shortened, depending on the industry. For instance, in high-tech businesses where information changes quickly, the restrictions are frequently shorter.
  • Geography. You can make restrictions in the area where your company does business, but probably not nationwide or worldwide. One exception is Internet or software companies that operate worldwide.
  • Scope. No non-compete agreement can strip an employee of the right to earn a living. An agreement can restrict certain core functions, but it can’t prevent an employee from using skills acquired over years. Agreements are analyzed for reasonableness by the courts.

Restrictions must normally be limited to the job the employee performed for the employer. For example, a software engineer for one automaker can’t be restricted from taking a sales job at another manufacturer’s showroom.

Non-compete agreements are subject to the laws of the state in which they’re written. Some states don’t recognize them. Others stipulate that employees must enter into the agreements when first hired. If the document is sprung on an employee later — up to and including quitting day — the company may have to offer something extra (such as a promotion, raise, stock options or other enticement) for the agreement to be valid.   So the best time to secure an agreement is generally when you hire an employee.

To sum up, you can prevent staff members from competing with you after they leave your company but the exact restrictions depend on many things — most importantly, whether circumstances make it reasonable and enforceable.  Consult with your attorney for assistance in drafting the agreement or if you feel a former employee’s conduct violates a non-compete agreement.

Special thanks to Gregory E Ossege for submitting his response to this question. Greg is the managing partner of Ossege Combs & Mann, Ltd. a Cincinnati area CPA and Business Consulting firm. He can be reached at gossege@ocmcpas.com or 513-241-4507. Also, see www.ocmcpas.com for further information.

Are you concerned that you are not in compliance with the required labor laws? Let strategic HR, inc. help. Visit our Compliance page for more information.

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Using Social Media to Screen Candidates

Question:

How can social media be used to screen applicants?

Answer:

Using social media for screening can be a double-edged sword; while Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter can offer much insightful information about a potential candidate, what you learn may hurt your company.

Social media sites such as LinkedIn can provide an individual’s accomplishments and accolades such as educational background, recommendations, and awards. In fact, members are encouraged to keep their profiles current to help them in employment situations. Social media can also be helpful in assessing whether or not someone would be a good fit for a company’s culture. However, on the “downside”, reviewing an applicant’s online profile could expose you to demographic data such as race, marital status, gender, national origin, disability, age, or religion – information you cannot use when making a hiring decision. Social media  can also reveal negative attributes such as alcohol or drug use, provocative behavior or dress, and poor communication skills.

With this in mind, use social media with caution. It is recommended that if you access an applicant’s social media profile that you clearly show discriminatory information that is discovered (i.e. age, ethnicity, religion) did not impact your hiring decision. To avoid potential claims, as much as possible, be sure you are consistent in checking all applicant’s online information, not just select groups, such as a certain age or gender. Also determine at what point in your process you will check candidates’ profiles.

Having a designated screening tool or process that only reports job-related findings and not discriminatory information will be your best protection. You may also want to consider seeking counsel from an employment law specialist who is familiar with social media-related laws, particularly recent legislation set by the National Labor Relations Board.

Are you overwhelmed trying to screen and hire the right talent for your company? Hiring isn’t what it used to be and it can be difficult to keep up with new regulations and sources of talent. That’s were strategic HR, inc. can help. Let our team of experts assist you with your recruitment needs. Visit our Recruitment page to learn more.

Multicolored wheel divided into 7 equal sections Recruitment, Training and Development, Benifits and Compensation, Communicating, Employee Relations, Recordkeeping, and Health safety and security with Legal compliance written on the outer edge and company strategy in the center, recruitment is emphasized

Pre-Employment Testing

Question:

My manager asked me to look into various pre-employment testing options for new hires. Why do we need this?

Answer:

Pre-Employment assessments can serve many purposes, and assist in recruiting by:

  • Shortening the hiring process by screening out inappropriate candidates
  • Helping determine candidate fit and potentially reduce turnover
  • Predicting performance by evaluating past behaviors
  • Serving as a way to find candidates with qualities that match top performing employees
  • Providing a baseline and agenda for further developing employees

There are many types of assessments that can be useful in the hiring process. Pre-employment tests can be used to measure:

  • physical ability
  • mental ability (aptitude)
  • honesty and integrity
  • knowledge or proficiency
  • literacy

Pre-employment physicals are used to evaluate an individuals physical ability to perform the tasks of a job; whether it is lifting a certain amount of weight or working under certain circumstances requiring strength and stamina. Other types of pre-employment assessments that focus on measuring an individual’s talents, personalty and intelligence, include cognitive (or aptitude) tests which look at an individual’s knowledge and ability to learn new tasks, personality tests which focus on honesty, integrity and reliability, and skill assessment tests which evaluate the ability to read, write, and perform mathematical calculations or use computer software. In addition to these tests, background checks (which may include evaluating criminal records, driving records and credit history) and drug/alcohol screens are also useful pre-employment types of tests. Some of these may be required depending on the type of job you are filling.

Psychology and learning theory tells us that the best predictor of future performance is to look at past performance. An assessment asks candidates questions that get at past behavior and performance to help an employer determine if the candidate’s qualities will fit with their required needs. By looking thoroughly at a candidate to ensure that their talents and personalities fit the needs of the job, there is a higher likelihood of that individual being happier, more productive, and staying longer in the new job.

Do you struggle to find qualified individuals that fit your culture and make productive, long-term employees? Finding the right person to “fit” a job is a critical HR function. That’s why strategic HR, inc. utilizes a variety of resources to help clients source, screen and select the best candidates and employees. Please visit our Recruitment page for more information on how we can help you effectively and efficiently find your next employee.

 

Multicolored wheel divided into 7 equal sections Recruitment, Training and Development, Benifits and Compensation, Communicating, Employee Relations, Recordkeeping, and Health safety and security with Legal compliance written on the outer edge and company strategy in the center, recruitment is emphasized

Why Pre-Screen Applicants

Question:

Recruiting takes so much time, and now a colleague has suggested that we prescreen job applicants. Is it worth the additional time and what is the benefit of prescreening?

Answer:

We can all certainly agree that recruiting can be very time consuming; writing and placing ads, searching resume banks, screening resumes, and interviewing and vetting candidates. It’s often a catch-22: we need more staff to help with the workload, but the workload is so great we have no time to search for additional staff. Conducting a prescreen can be a valuable tool that can save time in the long run and help you recruit more productively.

No matter how well we write the job posting, sometimes it’s hard to tell from an applicant’s resume whether they have the specific requirements of the position. Having a prescreen allows you to further narrow the applicant pool to define the focus of your efforts. The prescreen serves as tool to add some 3-dimensional characteristics to a typically flat 2-dimensional resume.

Let’s say you need a welder with SMAW 5G Pipe weld skills and you have 20 resumes that just say “welding experience”. You could ignore the 20 resumes, but in today’s hiring environment, short on appropriately skilled talent, it often pays to turn over every stone to find the perfect match. You could talk with all 20 applicants, but that might take loads of time. A prescreener could help determine if the applicant has the exact pipe weld experience you need by asking the applicant for more specific details about their welding experience. A carefully constructed prescreen can identify which applicants meet the specific requirements of the job, before the resume ever has to be reviewed by HR or the hiring manager, saving both time. This is invaluable for a position that might get several hundred resume responses. Often the prescreen can be incorporated as part of the direct application process, narrowing candidates to only those who pass the prescreen.

When constructing the prescreen, length is key. Too short and you don’t get enough information, too long and applicants lose interest in the process and don’t complete the screener. Keeping the prescreen to no more than 10 questions is about ideal. Narrow down the questions to the must have skill sets or qualities. Even though it may take a little more time to construct the pre-screen initially, it saves time in the end by narrowing the candidate pool.

With today’s high unemployment there are lots of job seekers, but only one is going to be the right “fit” for your job opening. It takes a targeted approach using the right message, the best resources and lots of follow up to find that “needle in a haystack”. It can be expensive when not well thought-out, but when done correctly doesn’t have to break the budget. Strategic HR, inc. knows what it takes to attract, hire and retain the best employees. Whether you need a complete recruitment solution or just help with pieces of your process, we can assist you. Visit our Recruitment page to learn how we can provide you with top notch recruitment assistance.

Multicolored wheel divided into 7 equal sections Recruitment, Training and Development, Benifits and Compensation, Communicating, Employee Relations, Recordkeeping, and Health safety and security with Legal compliance written on the outer edge and company strategy in the center, recruitment is emphasized

Checking References

Question:

It seems like when I check references for a potential new hire, no one will give me information. Previous employers will only give me dates and the employee’s title. It seems like a waste of time. How can I make reference checking more productive?

Answer:

As a rule of thumb, the hiring process includes checking references and previous employment. This provides a potential employer an opportunity to find out more about the candidate and determine if there are any reasons a hire should not be made. But, let’s face it, a smart candidate is only going to give you contacts who are going to speak positively of them.  While these may be of some value, they may not disclose any negative traits the candidate may have. To make things more difficult many companies are still hesitant to provide much information about former employees out of fear of a defamation lawsuit.

One way to get around these obstacles is to ask the candidate for the name and direct phone number (maybe even a personal cell phone) of his or her former immediate supervisor. The closer you can get to a supervisor that actually has knowledge of the candidate, the more likely you are to gain valuable information. This individual may be more apt to provide a realistic assessment and any developmental opportunities the candidate may have. If the former supervisor is still hesitant to talk (or recites the company’s policy with regard to references), one question to ask that speaks volumes is, “Would you rehire the former employee?” A positive or negative response to that simple question can be an indication of how the candidate is viewed by that former employer.

Keep in mind, employers do have an obligation to disclose any information about a former employee that might put others in harm’s way. While some may see reference checking as a waste of time, as an employer, you also have an obligation to do due diligence on those you hire to ensure the safety of your employees and customers, or risk a negligent hiring lawsuit should something unfortunate happen.

Strategic HR, inc. understands the complexity of hiring. From applicants to candidates to prospects, we know the ins and outs of sourcing, screening and selecting your next new hire. Whether you need a complete recruitment solution or just help with pieces of your process, such as reference checking, we can assist you. For more information visit our Recruitment page to learn how we can help you fill your job openings efficiently and cost effectively.

Multicolored wheel divided into 7 equal sections Recruitment, Training and Development, Benifits and Compensation, Communicating, Employee Relations, Recordkeeping, and Health safety and security with Legal compliance written on the outer edge and company strategy in the center, recruitment is emphasized

Recruitment and Social Media

Question:

What role does HR need to take if social media is going to be the future of recruiting and network building?

Answer:

HR must take a very active role. Social media is about creating and maintaining relationships; it’s a two-way communication tool. Using social media to recruit takes more than posting your job opening on a social media site and waiting for the applicants to come in. If you want to simply recruit on the Internet there is a plethera of large, small and niche job boards that will allow you to do just that. These are bulletin board sites where your job goes up for others to read and respond to – an electronic classified section if you will. But if you want to use social media, interactive sites like FaceBook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, it takes a significant amount of dedication and time to make those tools work.

If your company is large enough to have a dedicated marketing person or department  chances are they are already engaged in social media to connect with customers, clients and vendors. In that case Human Resources should partner with Marketing to make sure a consistent message (brand image) is being shared and to integrate recruiting efforts with sales and marketing efforts – after all, recruitment is largely sellling and marketing your organization to potential employees. Why recreate the wheel when you can piggy-back on the tools already being used elsewhere in your organization. If there are currently no social media efforts being conducted in your company, HR will have to take the charge and start from the ground up. This includes defining the company’s stance on social media and creating a policy that sets out the paramters of social media use (if not already determined).

In either circumstance, HR will need to create a social media strategy that identifies the objectives being sought, the audience being targeted, the internal resources needed and the social media to be used, as well as a criteria for measuring success.

  • There must be an underlying reason “why” to utilize social media – and “just because everyone else is doing it” isn’t the right reason.
  • Social media involves creating two-way conversations. These conversations need to be responsive and genuine despite being “virtual” and not all audiences will respond appropriately to this medium.
  • A robust social media stratey does not rely solely on HR to create and maintain the online relationships, but utilizes all employees within the organization.
  • All social media platforms are not created equal – in other words, use the right tool for the right job – the shotgun approach does not work with social media.
  • Finally, measuring success and proving value will be important in determining if the right social media platform has been used and if the costs are worthwhile.

It is up to HR to define the needs as it pertains to recruiting and networking, but creating an engaged and active audience is something that takes time and many individuals and is almost always a work in progress.

Recruitment is more than just placing an ad in the newspaper. It’s take a targeted message using the right sources and lots of follow up. It can be expensive when not well thought-out, but when done correctly doesn’t have to break the budget. Strategic HR, inc. knows what it takes to attract, hire and retain the best employees. Whether you need a complete recruitment solution or just help with pieces of your process, such as working with social media, we can assist you. Visit our Recruitment page to learn how we can provide you with top notch recruitment assistance.

Multicolored wheel divided into 7 equal sections Recruitment, Training and Development, Benifits and Compensation, Communicating, Employee Relations, Recordkeeping, and Health safety and security with Legal compliance written on the outer edge and company strategy in the center, recruitment is emphasized

Making Adverse Employment Decisions

Question:

A background check that we conducted on a potential hire came back with a felony conviction.  Do I still have to hire this individual if he/she is otherwise qualified?

Answer:

That can be a tricky situation. There are a number of laws that come into play. First is the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The FCRA requires that employers inform employees or potential hires prior to conducting a background check, that they may use a consumer report in making a hiring/employment decision. The employer must have the employee/candidate sign a release authorizing them to obtain the requested information. Additionally, the employee/candidate must receive notification of their rights under the FCRA. While many companies will include a release in their employee application, it is best to have a separate document that clearly communicates the intention to conduct the background check.

Should negative information be obtained as a result of the background check, there are a number of things to consider. There is no federal law prohibiting employers from asking about arrests or convictions. However, keep in mind that arrests do not necessarily indicate guilt; it is better to just look at convictions. While criminal conviction is not a protected status recognized by the EEOC, there can be adverse impact to certain groups in basing decisions solely on a conviction record. It is important to consider whether the conviction would impact the individual’s ability to do the job. For example, someone with a conviction for theft or writing bad checks may not be a viable candidate for your bookkeeper opening; however, a DUI conviction may not impact the individual’s ability to keep the books.

In the event that you make an adverse employment decision based on information you obtained from a consumer report, there are additional notification requirements under the FCRA. Prior to making the decision, you must send a pre-adverse action notification, advising the candidate that information you obtained from a background check may impact your employment decision;  a copy of the consumer report must be included with this letter and the employee must be allowed the opportunity to dispute with the credit reporting agency.  Finally, once the decision has been made, the individual must be notified again that an adverse decision has been made based on information obtained from a consumer report.

While this process may seem cumbersome, it is important that it is followed or you could risk civil liability and fines. The appropriate notifications can be obtained on the Fair Trade Commission website (www.FTC.gov) or the consumer reporting agency can often provide the documents.

Recruitment isn’t just a matter of finding and hiring the right person. There are scores of regulations that must be adhered to or you risk fines or penalties. Strategic HR, inc. specializes in helping companies find, hired and retain a talented workforce while keeping an organization compliant. Visit our Recruitment page to learn how we can help you hire safely.

Multicolored wheel divided into 7 equal sections Recruitment, Training and Development, Benifits and Compensation, Communicating, Employee Relations, Recordkeeping, and Health safety and security with Legal compliance written on the outer edge and company strategy in the center, recruitment is emphasized

Recruitment Sources

Question:

One of my managers just asked me to fill an opening for him. Our previous recruitment efforts consisted of a newspaper ad in the local newspaper which didn’t meet with much success. What should I do differently this time?

Answer:

As much as you might think the person you are trying to hire hasn’t changed over the years, the fact is that times HAVE changed when it comes to connecting with those people you are trying to reach. An ad in the local newspaper or a sign in the window used to be all it took to fill a vacant job. Now you have to be a little bit more creative to target the right audience and to get the word out there that you are hiring.

That may mean connecting with local social service organizations or outplacement services to reach your intended audience. You may find that holding mini-job fairs on-site or at a local job assistance center will get you the best applicant pool. Being creative in the places you target to share your message will help. Keep that sign in the window, but also consider putting a bulletin out at the local library or asking a business down the street to share your need with their customers.

Social media is the buzz word in recruiting and if you haven’t yet tried it now is a great time to start. Sure it sounds very complicated and somewhat superficial, but the fact of the matter is it’s often free and can be quite successful. If your company is already using Facebook or Twitter to connect with customers, then do so also for your recruiting. And if you have a website, make sure you have a career page where you can post your opening and provide information on how to apply.

Keep in mind that it’s best to use a variety of advertising methods to share your job opening. Not everyone will read the jobs page of the local paper, but might notice the ad if it is posted somewhere else.

Recruitment is more than just placing an ad in the newspaper. It’s take a targeted message using the right sources and lots of follow up. It can be expensive when not well thought-out, but when done correctly doesn’t have to break the budget. Strategic HR, inc. knows what it takes to attract, hire and retain the best employees. Whether you need a complete recruitment solution or just help with pieces of your process, we can assist you. Visit our Recruitment page to learn how we can provide you with top notch recruitment assistance.

Multicolored wheel divided into 7 equal sections Recruitment, Training and Development, Benifits and Compensation, Communicating, Employee Relations, Recordkeeping, and Health safety and security with Legal compliance written on the outer edge and company strategy in the center, recruitment is emphasized

Helping Hiring Managers with the Recruitment Process

Question:

One of my hiring managers recently asked “does HR need to interview all my candidates before I do?” What’s the best way for me to respond?

Answer:

As an HR professional you know that recruitment is a learned skill; one that not everyone has the knack to perform and even some despise. We often get push-back on why HR has to stick their noses into everything, but there are some very good reasons. Rather than approaching managers with “because it is our job”, it is more beneficial to share the value added reasons that mean something to the manager – think about the pain or the problem you are solving for them.

One of the first “pains” remedied, that they may not even realize is a pain, are the legal ramifications that could impact the company, and them personally, during the recruitment process. One thing you are doing for them and the company is managing the process to make sure all t’s are crossed and all i’s are dotted to avoid costly law suits and fines.

Another “pain” that hiring managers often run into is the lack of time – not having enough time in the day. After all a hiring manager often has to do their regular job duties AND fill an opening at the same time. Recognizing and empathizing with the manager that you know they are extremely busy. Explaining that your role is to help them by extending their “reach” and taking steps to reduce the volume of time they need to commit to the hiring process. By allowing HR to conduct pre-screens, phone interviews, or to assist with the in-person interview is a great way to save them valuable time.

Remember, not all managers are good at hiring, or even like to hire. HR’s role is to assist with recruitment in any way possible from supplying an interview guide or question checklist to sitting in on interviews to facilitate the conversation. The key for getting your managers comfortable with HR help with recruitment is good communication. You are assisting the hiring manager in selecting their future staff; employees who will help the manager succeed. The hiring manager needs to know what is happening with the recruitment process at all times or they may feel that they should be doing it themselves. To do this successfully you will need to create rapport, determine the best means for communicating and identify how frequently they want to receive updates. This process needs to be a partnership in order to succeed this time and to set the stage for the next hire the manager will have!

Do you cringe when it’s time for the hiring manager to interview candidates? Are you afraid they might ask an illegal question or say something inappropriate? Then you need our handy Recruiting Questions Desktop Reference. Written with the untrained manager in mind, we have compiled a list of questions that should not be asked in an interview. Compiled by category, this easy to navigate reference is a great tool for every manager that hires. At only $10 it’s a great bargain for your piece of mind. Visit our Recruitment page for more information on this topic.

Multicolored wheel divided into 7 equal sections Recruitment, Training and Development, Benifits and Compensation, Communicating, Employee Relations, Recordkeeping, and Health safety and security with Legal compliance written on the outer edge and company strategy in the center, recruitment is emphasized

Sarbanes Oxley and Recordkeeping

Question:

I am revamping our recruitment process and need to know what we should be doing with regard to Sarbanes Oxley and employment.

Answer:

As of June 1, 2005, you must properly dispose of any credit or consumer information that is kept for employees and/or job applicants or risk serious fines and penalties. So if, for example, you request any information from a consumer reporting agency, you must have a plan for how to dispose of the information in the future to avoid jeopardizing the identity (through identity theft) of your employees or applicants. A court could find you negligent if you do not store, distribute, and destroy your employment records in an “appropriate manner” and your files are stolen.

We found some wonderful information on this topic in the March 15, 2005 issue of HR Matters e-Tips at http://www.ppspublishers.com/ez/html/031505txtb.html.

In the article linked above, Personnel Policy Services elaborates on steps you can take to safeguard your employment records. In a nutshell:

  1. Limit access to employee files
  2. Be sure your files are locked
  3. Install and update firewalls on your computer
  4. Conduct background checks on all employees that will have access to sensitive information
  5. Remove access to sensitive material upon termination
  6. Do not use social security numbers to identify employees
  7. Destroy employment files that no longer need to be kept
  8. Assist your employees with identify theft protection measures

Recruitment isn’t just a matter of finding and hiring the right person. There are scores of regulations that must be adhered to or you risk fines or penalties. Strategic HR, inc. specializing in helping companies find, hire and retain a talented workforce while keeping an organization compliant. Visit our Recruitment page to learn how we can help you hire safely.

Multicolored wheel divided into 7 equal sections Recruitment, Training and Development, Benifits and Compensation, Communicating, Employee Relations, Recordkeeping, and Health safety and security with Legal compliance written on the outer edge and company strategy in the center, recruitment is emphasized

The Difference between Applicants and Candidates

Question:

My recruiter talks about applicants and candidates as if they’re not interchangeable–what’s the difference?

Answer:

In some circles it’s possible that applicants and candidates are used interchangeably. But when talking with human resources recruiters, applicants are job seekers who have “applied” for your job opening. They have either sent a resume to you or completed an application – online or in person. You might have 300 applicants for a particular job opening. Candidates on the other hand are applicants that you have screened and deem minimally qualified for the job opening. They are contenders for the opening; these are the folks that you will interview by phone or in person or have some other form of contact to learn more about their qualifications. Out of an applicant pool of 300, you might only identify 15 candidates.

Strategic HR, inc. understands the complexity of hiring. From applicants to candidates to prospects, we know the ins and outs of sourcing, screening and selecting your next new hire. For more information visit our Recruitment page to learn how we can help you fill your job openings efficiently and cost effectively.

Multicolored wheel divided into 7 equal sections Recruitment, Training and Development, Benifits and Compensation, Communicating, Employee Relations, Recordkeeping, and Health safety and security with Legal compliance written on the outer edge and company strategy in the center, recruitment is emphasized

Helping Managers Interview

Question:

I’m so frustrated. After what I thought was sufficient training in interviewing dos and don’ts, one of my hiring managers apparently asked a candidate if they had children. Why don’t they get it? We could get into big trouble for a slip like that. What can I do to keep these managers on track and out of hot water?

Answer:

Interviewing can be a slippery slope, especially when you have a hiring manager that doesn’t have to interview frequently – or may not have ever done it at all. Don’t be too harsh on your managers. It takes time learning how to interview and what seems like common sense to an HR professional, doesn’t make sense to someone on the outside. The manager might have been just making friendly conversation – unaware that his questioning was a potential hotbed for a lawsuit.
One of the best ways to ensure that things don’t go awry in the interview process is to provide interview guides and training to your managers. You mentioned training them, but how long ago? Did you leave them with an interview guide that they can use to refresh their memory next time out? Did you only give them an interview guide and not talk about “why” they cannot ask certain questions. Often by explaining the reasons behind something you get better recollection and response. Here are our best practices for helping managers interview:

  1. Partner with your hiring managers. HR knows how to select the best candidates, while hiring managers know the best skills and experience needed for the job. Engage the hiring manager throughout the hiring process; not just the interview.
  2. Provide managers with training. This can be a review of the entire recruitment process or just tips on interviewing. If managers don’t interview often you may have to offer a refresher course or give a quick 15 minute review before they begin in the process.
  3. Offer multiple training resources. Remember everyone has a different learning style. Combine instruction with role play to allow practice of new skills. Have handouts and reference materials for follow-up and quick referral.
  4. Provide an interview guide. Unstructured interviews are a recipe for trouble. Having a guide to work from help keeps the manager on track (asking the right questions) and keeps the interview consistent between candidates.
  5. Teach behavioral interviewing. Focusing on past performance (situations, behaviors and outcomes) will help avoid inappropriate questions by focusing on the job and skills needed to be successful.
  6. Differentiate between internal and external hires. While the mechanics of the two interviews are the same, the way they are handled is vastly different. Internal candidates need to be treated as “kid gloves” – with the utmost of respect and concern. How you treat your internal candidates can often mean the difference between filling one position as planned, or unexpectedly having to fill two.
  7. Encourage candidate feedback. Provide an interview evaluation to be filled out with each interview. This not only helps evaluate candidates, but also documents the reasons behind the hire and could support a hiring decision should discrimination be charged.
  8. Provide hands on guidance. Sit in on the first few interviews with your hiring manager. Your presence can help calm a nervous first-timer or guide an interviewer that has gotten lost in his notes or wanders into dangerous territory. Define your role before the interview – allowing the manager to take the reins if ready, or the back seat until more comfortable.

Remember, to be a great interviewer takes lots of practice. If hiring doesn’t happen at your company often you will have to play the role of teacher each and every time you hire.

Interviewing is more difficult than it can seem. Strategic HR, inc. knows that asking the right questions can help you find the best Talent, and asking the wrong questions can leave you with loads of trouble. That’s why we have experts to help you with your recruitment. And we have resources to help you with functions such as Recruitment – take our Recruiting Questions Desktop Reference for example. This handy reference provides your hiring managers with the right (and wrong) questions to ask in an interview – all in one useful document. Visit our Recruitment page for more information on this topic.

Multicolored wheel divided into 7 equal sections Recruitment, Training and Development, Benifits and Compensation, Communicating, Employee Relations, Recordkeeping, and Health safety and security with Legal compliance written on the outer edge and company strategy in the center, recruitment is emphasized

Group Interviewing

Question:

Our Marketing Director is hiring a new Marketing Manager. As part of the interviewing process they have all of the marketing staff involved in the interview process. The staff seems a little reluctant. Is this format a good idea?

Answer:

This type of interviewing process (akin to a group interview) is becoming more common in hiring. While the staff should not be making the final decision, their input on the individuals being interviewed can be invaluable. After all, they will be the ones working for the new person. This type of interview allows the potential Manager to ask and answer questions regarding the true work of the department and allows the hiring manager to see some interaction with the actual staff.

Keep in mind, if the direct reports don’t like the candidate, but the hiring manager does and hires that candidate, the new person may start a job with their reports already resenting him or her. If you decide to involve staff in the interview, there should be a list of pre-selected questions drawn up beforehand – assign a question or two to each staff member if you conduct the interview in a panel format. By using pre-determined questions this maintains consistency among candidates and prevents the interview from getting off target.

You also mention that this idea is causing some angst with the staff. If that’s because the staff is uncomfortable with being in the interview, don’t force the issue. If they don’t want to participate in the actual interview at least give them the opportunity to meet the final candidates while the process is ongoing.

Recruitment is a critical HR function. Strategic HR, inc. knows that finding and keeping talented employees is the key to company survival. That’s why our Talent consultants utilize a variety of resources to help clients source, screen and select the best candidates and employees. Please visit our Recruitment page for more information on how we can help you effectively and efficiently find your next employee.

Multicolored wheel divided into 7 equal sections Recruitment, Training and Development, Benifits and Compensation, Communicating, Employee Relations, Recordkeeping, and Health safety and security with Legal compliance written on the outer edge and company strategy in the center the outer edge is emphasized

Unpaid Internships

Question:

Our small company is finding ourselves overwhelmed as business picks up. We need extra help, but are not in the position to add to our payroll. Is an unpaid intern a viable option?

Answer:

An internship can be a great way for a company to fill a gap in the workplace, and offers the individual the opportunity to gain valuable experience. Some companies even view an internship as an extended interview, a chance to get to know the individual and a sense of his or her capabilities, outside the parameters and limitations of the usual interview process.

Be careful, however, when considering an unpaid internship. The Department of Labor has very definite rules regarding unpaid internships, intended to prevent companies from using them for cheap grunt work. For starters, the employer must receive no immediate advantage from what the intern does – the position must be for the benefit of the intern. Additionally, the unpaid intern must not replace the work of a regular employee. The position has to be focused on the intern’s learning experience. For example, an intern in accounting must be gaining real hands-on accounting experience, not spending time filing and fetching coffee.

For more information about structuring your internships, consult a strategic HR consultant, or the Department of Labor website, http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs71.pdf

Strategic HR, inc. provides a variety of resources to help you find the help you need. We offer outsourced recruiting, on-site contract assistance or contingency placement. We can create a plan that’s custom fit for your specific recruitment needs. Please visit our Recruitment page for more information.

Multicolored wheel divided into 7 equal sections Recruitment, Training and Development, Benifits and Compensation, Communicating, Employee Relations, Recordkeeping, and Health safety and security with Legal compliance written on the outer edge and company strategy in the center, recruitment is emphasized

Consumer Reports – Ensuring Compliance with FCRA

Question:

Our company has just started completing background checks on new hires. The vendor who provides our background checks has a notice posted on their website reminding users to follow up with candidates according to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). We don’t do credit checks on new hires – does this apply to us? What do we need to do?

Answer:

Background checks are a must if a company wants to ensure a good hire. Thanks to some great vendors out there, companies can get very good background check results without breaking the bank. However, there are a few stipulations that must be followed to be in compliance with FCRA. This process needs to be followed for all types of consumer reports (i.e. criminal history, driving records and credit reports).

Before obtaining the background check, you will need to inform the candidate of their rights. This entails giving them a Fair Credit Reporting Act Disclosure statement, in writing, that provides notice of their rights and informs them that a consumer report may be used to determine their employability. They must sign this disclosure as well as a separate written release authorization to perform the consumer report investigation. A number of companies incorporate the release authorization into their employment application. Some consumer reporting providers prefer to have it as a separate document so that the candidate is well aware that a consumer report investigation is being performed.

Once the consumer report is obtained, if ANY of the information in the consumer report is a factor in your decision (even if it is not the deciding factor) you must provide the candidate with a Pre-Adverse Action disclosure that includes a copy of the candidate’s consumer report and a copy of A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Our background check vendor supplies a letter that explains this process to go along with these items when they are sent to the candidate. When you finally fill the position, any candidate who has been in consideration (has had a background check) and not chosen, needs to be sent an Adverse Action letter notifying them of the decision. The letter needs to include: the name and address of the consumer reporting company that provided their consumer report(s), a statement that the reporting entity did not make the “adverse” employment decision, and provide the candidate with their rights to dispute the information and how they can obtain a copy of a free credit report. This information must be provided to the candidate, even if the information in the consumer report wasn’t negative. The regulation also stipulates that the candidate needs to be notified once the position is filled.

If you are using a reputable background check company, they should help you by providing forms and documents needed to fulfill your obligations under FCRA. For more details and specific guidelines for the follow up notifications, please visit http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/menus/consumer/credit/rights.shtm.

Multicolored wheel divided into 7 equal sections Recruitment, Training and Development, Benifits and Compensation, Communicating, Employee Relations, Recordkeeping, and Health safety and security with Legal compliance written on the outer edge and company strategy in the center is emphasized

Benefits and Types of “Outside” Recruiting Help

Question:

We recently had a few jobs to fill and decided to go “outside” our company for assistance. I was shocked at the cost and don’t know if I would look for outside help in the future. Was I overcharged?

Answer:

I hear this a lot – how expensive it is to recruit new employees. The bottom line is, it IS expensive and that’s why we encourage employers to do everything possible to make sure they are hiring the RIGHT candidate the first time around and then do what’s necessary to KEEP the employees they have so that they don’t have to replace them.

I think one of the biggest reasons companies believe using outside help to hire is so expensive is because at the end of the process they get an invoice and actually see all the costs that are involved: developing a job description, posting the job, screening the applicants, selecting and interviewing the candidates, performing background and reference checks, and proper follow up with candidates. Many companies don’t track the proper metrics to determine how much that new hire actually cost – so the true cost of a hire using internal resources is somewhat diluted by lack of data. Another factor is that when internal HR hires someone the costs can end up lumped together with other HR activities, which makes it difficult to get an accurate picture of the total cost. It can take between 2-5 minutes to properly screen a resume. Multiply that times the hundreds of resumes one job posting can generate and you have hours of time spent just reading resumes and selecting candidates to interview. This is an important step in the hiring process, but one that costs money.

But to your point, hiring is expensive. You didn’t mention the type of help you employed, but “outside” help can be typically defined three ways:

  • In a Retained Search a hiring agency is retained to fill a specific, usually hard-to-fill, position. In this model the agency gets the same fee regardless of how long it takes to fill a position. In many cases the estimated fee (usually based on the position’s salary) is typically (pre)paid in three 30-day installments. Retained searches are best used for senior-level management positions where there are fewer candidates in the market and/or when the search needs to be very confidential.
  • When using Contingency Placement the recruiter represents various candidates and presents them to the organization for consideration. Under this model the recruiter is only paid if one of their candidates is hired and their placement fee is typically 20-30% of the position’s salary. A contingency recruiter may have relationships with multiple companies, usually in the same industry, and will present their candidates to as many companies as possible.
  • With Outsourced Recruiting you engage a recruiter to work with your staff to fill your specific positions according to your needs on an hourly basis. This recruiter might only source and screen candidates, or they may be involved in interviewing and making the final offer. This model allows for an hourly rate to be paid for all recruitment activities and allows for the most flexibility. You only pay for the time the recruiter works for you.

If you have the time and expertise in-house to do the hiring in an efficient and legal manner, it may be more cost effective to use your own staff. However, if your needs seem to ebb and flow, you don’t have the internal resources, your position(s) are confidential, you have a large volume of open positions needing to be immediately filled or you aren’t sure you have the latest and greatest knowledge (both in terms of hiring expertise and the legalities of hiring), it may make sense to outsource your recruitment to save time, money, and even avoid potential legal risks. No matter what you decide, track your recruitment expenses so you are aware of your costs from one hire to the next and can determine if you are making the best decisions for recruitment AND retention.

And of course, strategic HR, inc. knows that each hiring situation is unique, and offers a variety of hiring options to address hiring needs individually, including the three options above.

Multicolored wheel divided into 7 equal sections Recruitment, Training and Development, Benifits and Compensation, Communicating, Employee Relations, Recordkeeping, and Health safety and security with Legal compliance written on the outer edge and company strategy in the center, recruitment is emphasized

Behavioral Based Interviewing Approach

Question:

What kind of interviewing skills should be practiced for selecting the right candidate, taking into consideration that candidates are able to polish their presentation skills enough to feign the truth.

Answer:

Agreed – some candidates have become adept at smoothly responding to the expected interview questions and even answering personality profiles in a manner they think is desired by the interviewer. That’s why it’s a good idea to use a behavioral based interviewing approach.

In behavioral interviewing, the recruiter determines the essential competencies required to successfully perform a position. This is done in advance of the interview process by having the recruiter speak with incumbents in the open position(s) and/or the supervisor of that position. For instance, if a job is in the customer service area, the key question becomes “what competencies does a person need to successfully perform the key functions of a customer service position?” Competencies may be communication, problem solving, and decision making skills. The recruiter must determine what these skills look like specifically. For example, communication skills could encompass active listening and appropriate responses in volatile situations, the ability to write in a clear and articulate manner, and presentation skills for small to large audiences.

In a behavioral interview approach, the recruiter should present actual scenarios that occur on the job to the candidate and ask for their description of how they would handle the situation or how they have handled similar situations in the past. The recruiter can then compare the applicants’ responses with the incumbent’s and supervisor’s responses (the desired responses). The concept behind behavioral interviewing is that “past behavior predicts future behavior.”