Hiring Process

Is hiring process hurting your recruiting brand:

Do you know what your job application and hiring process say about you as an employer?

  • Your competitive strength will always depend on your ability to attract and retain the cream of the talent crop — regardless of the economy or unemployment rate.
  • Your employer brand isn’t just affected by the experience you deliver to your employees. It’s also shaped by your job application and hiring process.
  • When it comes to your employer brand, “Everything Matters.” Every interaction job applicants have with your organization has the potential of shaping your employer brand. The experience they take away with them can profoundly affect your reputation as an employer and, in many cases, as a provider of products and services. Therefore, if you want employer of choice status, examine each step in the job application and hiring experience.
  • When the economy does turn around, companies who have great talent already in place — and not just worn out, warm bodies doing time — these are the companies positioned to capitalize on emerging opportunities.

How not to get fooled in hiring process

As competition in the job market has increased, so has candidates’ temptation to stretch the truth on their resumes. Many job seekers have been scanning and scraping for work much longer than they’re used to. Out of desperation, they’ll do almost anything to get an edge on other candidates–including outright lying.

As defined by Inquest Screening, resume fraud refers to “any act that involves providing fictitious, exaggerated, or otherwise misleading information on a job application or resume in hopes of persuading a potential employer to hire an applicant for a job they may be unqualified for or less qualified than other applicants.”

The top white lies on resumes include:

  • false education credentials
  • boosting job titles
  • hiding employment gaps
  • inflating current compensation
  • overstating accomplishments

As a responsible recruiter, you have to stay one step ahead of dishonest candidates. You must know not only the most common types of job application fraud, but also how to spot the warning signs.

Often, the only surefire way to catch falsifications early on is to do the extensive legwork of calling universities to verify degrees earned, contacting previous employers to confirm dates, and making sure the references listed are the correct people to talk to. In an ideal situation, you’d do this for each and every candidate; but as we all know, hiring emergencies are often far from “ideal.”

If you don’t have the time or resources to fact-check every detail of every candidate’s background, look for these red flags on his resume. Although these warning signs should not automatically eliminate a candidate, they’ll pinpoint key areas to question him about during an interview:

Listing a university, but no degree. In an attempt to hide the fact that they didn’t graduate, some candidates will list the years they attended a university but not mention a degree. When you come across a resume like this, be sure to question the candidate about it in your initial phone screening. This will force the candidate to explain the omission and disclose whether or not they completed the program and have the right credentials for the job.

Employment dates only listed in years. Candidates can be very creative about hiding gaps in work history, since they know gaps are unattractive to a potential employer. The most common way of doing this is only including the years, and not months, they held previous positions. This allows applicants to mask up to 12 months of unemployment. If a potential candidate looks good on paper, except for this, don’t hesitate to ask for a more detailed work history before interviewing.

Exaggerating job titles. When reviewing the resume, make sure the progression of job titles seems natural. For example, if an applicant’s work experience progresses from an assistant-level position at their previous job, to a director or VP in their next in a very short amount of time, it’s important to take a closer look at what their roles and responsibilities actually were. Candidates sometimes boost their titles in hopes of obtaining a higher salary. Double check with previous employers if something looks suspicious.

Overstating accomplishments. While many applicants are honest and have won awards in previous work, there are also many organizations that will sell you an award certificate for a small sum of money. In order to stand out from other applicants, many job seekers often list these awards and achievements on their resumes. If there are more than two or three awards from organizations you’ve never heard of, it only takes a few seconds to Google them. This is a quick, easy way to find out whether or not the candidate earned their recognitions.

While many of these falsifications are often caught in background checks, a background check usually isn’t conducted until late in the hiring process. By this time you’ve already invested time and energy in interviewing the candidate. It is always better to eliminate an unqualified candidate before your staff has become charmed and excited about hiring him. If the resume fraud goes undetected, it can lead to hiring a candidate that isn’t fit for the job, which will be very costly to the company later on.

Another great way to eliminate the risk of resume fraud is to use direct placement services to staff your organization. These services recruit, screen, and recommend candidates to fill your open positions. You’ll save time and eliminate the hassle of screening the resumes and conducting preliminary interviews to check credentials.

With databases of thoroughly screened applicants on file, your staffing partner can quickly pinpoint candidates who have the skills, experience and personality traits to be successful in your work environment. Their temp-to-hire placement option will even let you try out an employee before making a final hiring decision. As a final safeguard, most staffing firms offer replacement guarantees on the candidates they place.

Bottom line? When it comes to hiring great people, your staffing service can ensure the joke’s NOT on you this year.

What compensation plan is best for your business

You want to employ the best and the brightest people. But to get them (and keep them), you have to offer the right compensation package. While the solution may be to pay more, often the real answer lies in how you pay.

The following outlines the pros and cons of three of the most popular rewards based compensation plans. These plans offer compensation that is based on the skills and performance of an individual employee–rather than creating a benchmark salary for certain positions within your organization.

Skill-Based Pay

As implied by the name, skill-based pay rewards employees for improving their proficiency with essential job skills. Widely used in manufacturing, skill-based pay is now becoming increasingly popular in other work environments. The basis behind this pay structure is that employees are paid based on their skill level–not the position they hold.

Managers start by developing a list of skills needed to excel in a specific position. Each skill is then ranked by importance. As an employee gains mastery of these skills, their compensation is increased accordingly.


  • It creates a strong incentive for employees to improve their skills and master their job duties.
  • It leads to higher productivity rates and improves quality.
  • Companies usually find a higher commitment to organizational goals.
  • Employees’ self-management skills are improved.
  • Employees adapt to changes in work environment and technology quicker.


  • After an employee reaches the top of the skills chart, their compensation reaches a plateau, which may result in morale issues.
  • It can sometimes be difficult to develop skill charts in non-manufacturing work environments.
  • If technology and skill sets change frequently, you will need to continually update your skills assessment.
  • A large amount of time may be needed to accurately assess the skills of employees.
  • Some skills are difficult to objectively measure.

Competency-Based Pay

Competency-based pay is similar to skill-based in that it focuses on what the employee brings to the table. However, competency-based pay looks at general attributes of the employee as opposed to specific skills.

In this compensation plan, the employer develops a list of important characteristics (detail-oriented, strong leadership, ability to handle multiple tasks, etc.) and bases compensation on the extent to which the employee displays these skills in their daily job activities.


  • Gives employees a reason to show consistently high performance.
  • Encourages employees that wish to be paid for their contributions, not simply based on the number of years with the company.


  • It can be very difficult to generalize what employee attributes actually result in increased productivity and job competency.
  • Competency can be very difficult to measure and is often seen as subjective.
  • Employees may see this form of compensation as favoritism, which may cause morale problems.

Variable Compensation

In this model, employees are paid a below-average base salary and can earn additional bonuses by meeting or exceeding set goals. In many companies, employees are given 75-90% of market compensation. They are then given individual, departmental and corporate goals. If these goals are met or exceeded, the employees can earn above market compensation.


  • Employees see a direct correlation between their performance and pay.
  • Employees generally work together more effectively in order to meet departmental goals.
  • Provides a personal connection between the employee and the company’s goals and success.
  • Allows top performers to achieve above market compensation.


  • When the economy is down or the company is underperforming, it may be impossible for employees to meet their goals, therefore compensation lags and morale can become a problem.
  • A fairly complex system must be created and maintained in order to measure goals. In some instances complex computer tracking may be needed.
  • May be difficult to separate team and individual performance and awards.

Which system is best for your company goals?

Designing a compensation plan is not something that can be done by copying someone else. Every company has its own unique products, people, and processes. What works in one organization may not work in another. Much can be learned by studying what has succeeded or failed with other companies, but a sound understanding of the different variables involved is essential to designing a plan that benefits your company and your employees.

Who are you really hiring?

In today’s job market, competition is tougher than ever. As a result, more and more candidates are lying–embellishing résumés, giving false answers during interviews, even hiding prior criminal activity–to get hired. How do you separate the good from the bad?

These days, checking references is simply not enough. To protect your company and make the best hiring decisions, you must conduct thorough background checks 100% of the time. Implemented properly, background checks can:

  • Increase applicant quality
  • Prevent workplace violence
  • Minimize negligent hiring liability
  • Reduce employee dishonesty losses–namely fraud, theft and crime
  • Reduce turnover rates, by making the right hire the first time
  • Here are a few guidelines to ensure your background checks are thorough, legal and effective:

  • Get detailed information upfront. A background check will be based, in part, on information provided by the applicant. Incomplete information can cause processing delays and oversights. Make sure you obtain:
  • Aliases and former names

    Work locations

    Specific campus information, if the applicant attended a state college

    Birth date and social security number

    Names of supervisors and co-workers (these contacts are frequently less restrictive in the information they will divulge)

  • Beware of “instant” public records. Relying on “instant” public records for background checks is risky, because the information contained in these databases is often not fact-checked, cleaned-up or refreshed very often. Remember–as the employer, it is up to you to make sure the information you use is current and accurate.
  • Pay only for the information you need. Background-checking companies encourage you to purchase every piece of information they have on a potential employee–and charge a lot for these details. Make sure you only purchase the information you need to conduct a thorough review.
  • Use the web. While a Google search is not necessarily a trustworthy source of information (anyone can post anything they want about a person on a social networking site), you can and should supplement your background checks with a web search. The web, particularly professional networking sites like LinkedIn, can provide insight into who the person is; whom they associate with professionally; and what types of things they’re working on, blogging about, or interested in.
  • Keep background checks consistent and relevant. To eliminate potential bias, use the same background checking procedures and tools for all candidates for the same job. Furthermore, make sure you can establish a clear connection between the background checks you use and the basic requirements for the job.
  • Comply with FCRA. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, your small business is required to have employees sign a disclosure form granting authorization to perform a background check. In addition, if you make a hiring decision based on information found in a background check, you must inform the job seeker of the source used for the background checks. Laws vary from state to state (in how and what information can be used during the pre-employment screening process), so be sure to understand and follow those applicable to your location.
  • Hire experts for background checks. One way to effectively minimize your company’s risks and increase applicant quality is by hiring a staffing service to manage part or all of your screening process. As experts in pre-employment screening, staffing firms can:
  • eliminate the time and headaches associated with background checks;

    ensure nondiscriminatory hiring practices are followed;

    conduct additional pre-employment screening, such as skills testing and drug screens, to ensure the right candidates are hired the first time.

Guaranteeing Hiring Success

Time is the most critical factor in hiring today. Spend too long on your hiring process, and you’ll lose top candidates. Spend too little time, and you may make the most costly mistake of all-a bad hire. The secret is to spend enough time, while using the proper tools, to make the right fit between the candidate and the company.

Once you’ve set up a process to recruit, assess, and interview potential job candidates, you can guarantee your hiring success.


In today’s tight labor market, just finding the right people to interview can be a major challenge. You should seek every opportunity to locate potential applicants. While print advertising has remained the primary recruiting medium for most organizations, an analysis of costs have led many companies to seek additional methods. The following practices are some of the most popular and effective recruiting methods companies are using today:

  • Recruit applicants even when you’re not hiring.
  • Develop a contact database of people you’re interested in.
  • Partner with a skilled staffing service to recruit for you.
  • Redesign jobs to take advantage of available talent.
  • Encourage referrals-make your company the best place to work.
  • Use temp-to-hire options with a staffing service to “test out” before you commit to hiring.
  • Go global: can your work be done by someone across town, across the country, or across the world?
  • Use on-line career fairs to gain exposure to more applicants.
  • Post job openings on your company’s web site.
  • Fill in with temporary clerical, technical, professional, or executive staff while you look.

Recruiting is a sales job-why would a top quality applicant buy your firm? Once you answer this question, you’ll be better prepared to face the challenges involved in finding good candidates.

Candidate Assessment

Once you’ve selected the people you want to interview, the real challenge begins. Interviewing should be thought of as a process. Take your time getting to know the candidate-through screening, interviewing, testing, and reference checking. Your goal is to get an understanding of a person’s behavior-and the more chances you have to learn about the person, the more likely you are to get a true sense of their personality, ability, and behavior.


Once you’ve found a way to locate applicants, you need to screen resumes to make sure you interview the right candidates for your open positions. How many good people have you passed over because nothing on their resume caught your eye? Unfortunately, the answer is you’ll never know-unless you catch them working for your competition because they saw potential where you didn’t! Use the following techniques to improve your screening process:

  • Work in teams to gain more insight into a candidate’s strengths
    and weaknesses.
  • Use a resume scoring system to compare candidates.
  • Telephone pre-screen-don’t rely solely on resumes.

Three basic assumptions about interviewing:

  • Interviews test how well someone interviews
  • A good con artist can fool you every time
  • Interviews in which you induce stress seldom work

Strategies to improve your interviewing technique

Asking a series of initial questions at once, then allowing the candidate to answer them all. The reason is, it forces you to listen, and it relaxes you. Once you know your part is over for a while, you can focus on the candidate’s answers more intently

Announce when the interview will end-by saying something like, “we’ve got five more minutes.” This usually prompts the candidate to say the most important thing about him or herself

Throwing in a curveball at the end of the interview by doing something unexpected Observe anything which shows something about the candidate’s personal side

How to interview and Hire top people each and every time

Ponder for a moment the last person you hired. After you selected them, did they work out as intended? Or did they turn into somebody totally unlike what you thought when you interviewed them?

The most important aspect of any business is recruiting, selecting, and retaining top people. Research shows those organizations that spend more time recruiting high-caliber people earn 22% higher return to shareholders than their industry peers.

However, most employers do a miserable job selecting people. Many companies rely on outdated and ineffective interviewing and hiring techniques. This critical responsibility sometimes gets the least emphasis.

Hiring and interviewing is both art and science. Refusing to improve this vital process will almost always guarantee you will be spending money and time hiring the wrong people. Here are several reasons why traditional techniques are inadequate:

  • The majority of applicants “exaggerate” to get a job
  • Most hiring decisions are made by intuition during the first few minutes of the interview
  • Two out of three hires prove to be a bad fit within the first year on the job
  • Most interviewers are not properly trained nor do they like to interview applicants
  • Excellent employees are misplaced and grow frustrated in jobs where they are unable to utilize their strengths

Instead of waiting for people to apply for jobs, top organizations spend more time looking for high-caliber people. An effective selection and interviewing process follows these five steps:

Step 1 — Prepare.

Prior to the interview make sure you understand the key elements of the job. Develop a simple outline that covers the job duties. Possibly work with the incumbent or people familiar with the various responsibilities to understand what the job is about. Screen the resumes and applications to gain information for the interview. Standardize and prepare the questions you will ask each applicant

Step 2 — Purpose.

Skilled and talented people have more choices and job opportunities to choose from. The interviewer forms the applicant’s first impression of the company. Not only are you trying to determine the best applicant, but you also have to convince the applicant this is the best place for them to work.

Step 3 — Performance.

Identify the knowledge, attributes, and skills the applicant needs for success. If the job requires special education or licensing, be sure to include it on your list. Identify the top seven attributes or competencies the job requires and structure the interview accordingly. Some of these attributes might include:

  • What authority the person has to discipline, hire, and/or fire others and establish performance objectives
  • What financial responsibility, authority, and control the person has
  • What decision-making authority the person has
  • How this person is held accountable for performance objectives for their team, business unit, or organization
  • The consequences they are responsible for when mistakes are made

Step 4 — People Skills.

The hardest to determine, as well as the most important part of the process, is identifying the people skills a person brings to the job. Each applicant wears a “mask.” A good interviewing and selecting process discovers who is behind that mask and determines if a match exists between the individual and the job. By understanding the applicant’s personality style, values, and motivations, you are guaranteed to improve your hiring and selecting process.

Pre-employment profiles are an important aspect of the hiring process for a growing number of employers. By using behavioral assessments and personality profiles organizations can quickly know how the person will interact with their coworkers, customers, and direct reports. They provide an accurate analysis of an applicant’s behaviors and attitudes, otherwise left to subjective judgment. Personal Interests, Attitudes and Values are popular and useful tools.

Step 5 — Process.

The best interview follows a structured process. This doesn’t mean the entire process is inflexible without spontaneity. What it means is, each applicant is asked the same questions and is scored with a consistent rating process. A structured approach helps avoid bias and gives all applicants a fair chance. The best way to accomplish this is by using behavioral based questions and situational questions.

Behavior Based Questions

Behavioral based questions help to evaluate the applicant’s past behavior, judgment, and initiative. Here are some examples:

  • Give me an example when you
  • Describe a crisis your organization faced and how you managed it.
  • Tell me about the time you reached out for additional responsibility.
  • Tell me about the largest project you worked on.
  • Tell me about the last time you broke the rules.

Situational Based Questions

Situational based questions evaluate the applicant’s judgment, ability, and knowledge. The interviewer first gives the applicant a hypothetical situation such as:

“You are a manager, and one of your employees has just told you he thinks another worker is stealing merchandise from the store.”

  • What should you do?
  • What additional information should you obtain?
  • How many options do you have?
  • Should you call the police?

The art of the Job Offer

Job offers are tricky things. You want to present your offer positively, but you have to make sure you don’t misrepresent the terms of employment. The fact that these misrepresentations may be verbal or unintentional is irrelevant. How can you prevent such misunderstandings and the costly lawsuits that can result? First, you have to recognize and avoid major job offer pitfalls. Second, you have to learn to prepare offer letters carefully so they protect rather than harm you.


Careless job offers get companies into trouble in one of three ways:

  • The offer letter is regarded as a contract.
  • According to a newsletter, “Letters determined to contain a contractual agreement and letters containing no contractual agreement are for the most part indistinguishable.”

  • The offer letter makes unintentional promises.
  • Never make implicit or explicit promises that you may not keep. Statements that merely allude to job security or bonus assurances can be interpreted as contractual obligations by the courts

The offer letter contains information that conflicts with statements made during the interview.
Your words can be interpreted as implied promises, even if you never put them in writing. These seemingly harmless statements have gotten companies into trouble:

  • You’ll be with us as long as you can do your job.
  • This is a company where you can stay and grow.
  • You won’t be fired without just cause.

The problem can become especially troublesome when more than one of your employees interviews a candidate. While One might not have mentioned quarterly bonuses, perhaps Second did. That’s why it’s critical to make sure anything discussed is fully explained in your offer letter


The following suggestions can help you prepare a clear cover letter, which may avoid costly problems in the future:

Stick to specifics.

Include information such as position offered, location and working hours, salary, benefits, and starting date. Whenever possible, refer the candidate to official reference material (e.g., employee handbooks, health plan handbooks, stock option vesting requirements).

Write exactly what you mean.

Unclear writing is open to interpretation, and that’s when lawsuits arise. For example, if the employee can earn quarterly bonuses, describe all eligibility requirements. Better yet, refer him or her to the official document outlining the bonus process.

Make sure company documents agree.

Trouble can occur when the offer letter states something different from other company literature, like your employee handbook or your job description.

Indicate the offer is conditional.

Avoid phrases like “permanent position” or “direct employment.” And clearly indicate those factors upon which the job offer is contingent (e.g., drug test, skills test, reference check, background investigation).

Avoid dangerous terminology.

Most troublesome is language implying job security—phrases like “stable working environment,” “company family,” or “lack of layoffs within our organization.”

Watch what you call the letter.

A Letter of Employment sounds a lot like a legal contract. Instead, call it a Letter of Understanding.

Stress employment-at-will rights.

Most states have employment-at-will laws that allow you wide latitude when you must fire an employee. To protect yourself, include a statement that reaffirms your right and the employee’s right to terminate the employment at will. Further indicate that you or the employee can terminate employment for any reason—just cause should never be a condition.

Ask someone to review the letter.

It helps to have a fresh pair of eyes read the letter and look for potential problems. Preferably, this person should not be directly involved in the hiring process.

Of course, the suggestions above should not be misconstrued as legal advice. It’s always a good idea to allow your attorney to review employment documents.


Don’t let a sloppy job offer cost you time, legal expense, or your good name. With up-front preparation, your offers can clarify conditions of employment, persuade candidates to join your company, and protect you from trouble down the road. Well-designed offers are a prudent—and much less costly—alternative.