HR Essentials | Talent

Hiring Your First Employee? Here’s How to Set Up Your Employee Screening Program

February 21, 2018

There are always challenges to the hiring process, like attracting a well-qualified applicant pool, sifting through resumes without getting fatigued, asking the right questions in the interview and quickly figuring out whom you want to hire so you don’t lose the candidate to another employer. These steps are sources of difficulty and frustration even for hiring managers who have spearheaded hundreds of employee screening processes. 

Still, your first employee is often your toughest hire. When a business must go through the interview and hiring process for the first time, it’s difficult for two primary reasons:

  • There is a learning curve to hiring. If you’ve never hired someone before, it stands to reason that you are going to run into some hurdles you didn’t expect.
  • As a newer company, you simply don’t have the infrastructure in place. 

Established businesses have proven processes and policies that they follow when hiring new people. Newer companies just starting to bring in talent don’t have that foundation. As such, when the time comes to make your first hire, you will have to go through the process of setting up your first employee screening program. Here are a few tips to get you started: 

1) Consider compliance
There are a bevy of laws and regulations that affect hiring and employment. These laws happen at the federal, state and local levels so, depending on the location of your company and the location of the person you’re hiring, they can vary. Many of these laws come into play before you even make your first hire so it’s important to be ready as soon as you start recruiting.

The rules and regulations behind recruiting and hiring are numerous, and hiring compliance is far too weighty a topic for this post. It is recommended that small businesses seek the guidance of a qualified HR professional or employment attorney before even starting the hiring process. 

2) Define the role
An employee screening program can’t work if you aren’t using an objective standard of what a “qualified employee” will look like for the position you’re trying to fill. A lot of the people you meet in interviews are going to have qualities that you like, from fascinating resumes to buckets of charm. What you need to do is figure out who is the best person for the job. The only way to do that is to define the role in detail. 

Figure out the following and write them down:

  • The key responsibilities of the job
  • Essential hard skills required to be successful in the role
  • “Soft” skills (such as teamwork, organizational skills and working well under pressure) that will help the candidate in this role
  • The type of company culture you want to cultivate and what type of person will positively contribute to this type of culture
  • Work experience
  • Education and training credentials 

The process of outlining what you want from the person in this role will help you with virtually every other step of the screening process, from writing the job description to drafting interview questions to making an offer.

3) Map out your background check process
Running background checks on all the people you hire can be a core component of an employee screening process. A background check is a form of due diligence. It’s an important way to potentially learn more about your top candidates and find out if they have any serious red flags on their records.

You can design your background check process a bit from one job to the next. For instance, if you are hiring someone for a position that involves a lot of driving, you might incorporate the driving history check. For a desk job, having a driving record check isn’t as critical. What you shouldn’t do is change your background checks from one applicant to the next when screening candidates for the same job. You need to be consistent about how you are vetting all the applicants for a specific job. Otherwise, you could run into accusations of discrimination.

If setting up a background check policy sounds complex, that’s because there are a lot of legal restrictions and regulations that you need to follow, including whether a background check is appropriate at all and when and how to incorporate background checks into your hiring process. For this reason, we recommend you don’t attempt to administer a background check program on your own. Like with other compliance considerations around hiring, background checks are best left to a professional background check company.

4) Figure out how you are going to advertise the job
How are you going to get the word out about your job posting? From public job boards to private industry forums and from bulletin boards in your place of business to virtual postings on social media, there are a lot of ways you can complete this part of the process.

Some of these methods are free. Others aren’t. Look at your budget and determine what you can afford.  Additionally, take into consideration the type of position you are hiring for and the level of experience it requires. If you want to hire a more tech or social-savvy employee to help with some marketing, then promoting your job on Facebook and Twitter may be more appropriate and effective. Mid-level employees can often be found on more industry-relevant job boards while a high-level, specialized role may warrant the services of a professional recruiting firm.

5) Job applications
I said earlier that compliance considerations come into play before you even hire and this is very true for that age-old recruiting tool: the job application. Laws that may affect your job application include ban-the-box, which prevents questions about criminal history, and salary equality, which prevents employers from asking potential hires about—or relying on—salary history as a basis for hiring or for compensation negotiations. It is important to run your job application by your HR services provider or employment attorney before it goes to a candidate.

6) Hone your interview process
For the interview, draw up a list of questions to ask each applicant based on the role you defined earlier. Determine what you want to know about your applicants and formulate your interview around the questions that are going to prompt that information. Finally, take notes in your interview sessions—not just about the candidates but also about how well your interview approach is working. That way, you know what to change for your next hire. Also keep in mind that some subjects may be prohibited or are not best practices during an interview; once again, you should discuss your interview questions with your HR services provider or employment attorney.

This communication is for informational purposes only; it is not legal, tax or accounting advice; and is not an offer to sell, buy or procure insurance.

This post may contain hyperlinks to websites operated by parties other than TriNet. Such hyperlinks are provided for reference only. TriNet does not control such websites and is not responsible for their content. Inclusion of such hyperlinks on TriNet.com does not necessarily imply any endorsement of the material on such websites or association with their operators.

The opinions and views expressed by guest authors of the TriNet blog are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of TriNet or any of its affiliates or partners.  

By Michael Klazema

Michael Klazema is the lead author and editor for Backgroundchecks.com. He has been developing products for criminal background checks and improving online customer experiences in the background screening industry since 2009.

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