There are five key standard questions for recruitment managers to gain the best understanding of job candidates and to weed out those who are unacceptable risks. Asking standard questions has several advantages. They allow for a consistent process so that all applicants are subjected to the same questions and take the pressure off interviewers because questions are written out for them and can indicate that these standard company policy questions are asked of everyone.
One of the goals of an interviewer is to help foster an environment where a potential employee understands and accepts the goals and direction of the organisation. In order to assist in the process, there are five suggested, critical interview questions every employer or hiring manager should be trained to ask.
Of course, an employer would not want to get the interviewer off on the wrong foot with questions aimed at past criminal conduct or negative employment experiences. Every interview, however, does have a 'housekeeping' portion where the following questions are appropriate.
The questions are:
1. Our company has a standard policy of conducting background checks on all applicants before an offer is made or finalised. You have already signed a consent form. Do you have any concerns about that?
This is a general question about screening. Since the applicant has signed a consent form, there is a powerful incentive to be honest and reveal any issues.
2. We also check for criminal records for all finalists. Do you have any concerns about that?
This question goes from the general to the specific. Be sure to ask the question in a form that is legally permissible. Again, make sure the applicant understands that he or she has signed a release and this is standard company policy.
3. When we talk to your past employers, what do you think they will say?
Note the questions says: "when we contact your past employers", indicating that they will be contacted. This general question again provides a powerful incentive to be very accurate.
4. Will your past employers tell us that there was an issue with (e.g., tardiness, meeting job requirements, etc.)?
This question goes again to a specific area. Ask detailed questions about matters that are expressly relevant to the job opening that you are trying to fill.
5. Tell me about any unexplained gaps in your employment history.
If there are any unexplained employment gaps, it is imperative to ask about them.
Since applicants have signed consent forms and believe you are doing checks, applicants have a powerful incentive to be truthful. These questions are the equivalent of a 'New Age lie detector test'.
Very few employers administer actual lie detector tests as this is quite a costly process. These questions, however, serve a valuable function by providing a strong motivation to applicants to be self-revealing.
It also takes advantage of the natural human trait to want to have some control over what others say about you. If an applicant believes that an employer may hear negative information from a past employer, the applicant may want to be able to set the record straight (at least in the applicant's mind) before the employer has the chance to hear negative information from someone else.
Good applicants will shrug them off and applicants with something to hide may reveal vital information. The latter may react in a number of different ways. Some applicants may tough it out during the first question. But since the questions are designed to go from the general to the specific, by the second question, an applicant may well begin to express concerns or react in some way that raises a red flag. An applicant may object to the questions by asking if the questions invade their privacy rights.
If an applicant raises such an objection, then simply indicates that these are standard job-related questions asked of all applicants.
Kirsten Halcrow is the MD at EMPS (Employers' Mutual Protection Services), South Africa's oldest screening company, offering a one-stop pre-employment service with free registration on its online screening portal, www.emps.co.za.
My view is that sometimes you come across former employers who are resentful that you left them, then they tarnish you with all sorts of "dust".I think applying for a new job should be futuristic, the past has never been a predictor of the future, people change,grow,find other new nurturing and propelling environments etc.We trust new employers position themselves to present this.This is the new age,the breed of applicants is no longer the same ol'blue eyes. Posted on 13 Mar 2006 20:05
PAST BEHAVIOUR IS IN FACT THE BEST PREDICTOR OF FUTURE BEHAVIOUR-
EXPERIENCE IN THIS AREA OF EXPERTISE I CAN VOUCH FOR THE OPPOSITE WHICH RATHER SUGGESTS THAT PAST BEHAVIOUR IS IN FACT THE BEST PREDICTOR OF FUTURE BEHAVIOUR. IT IS GREAT TO HAVE SUCH AN OPTIMISTIC VIEW OF HUMAN BEINGS BUT THE REALITY IS THAT EMPLOYERS NEED TO BE MORE VIGILANT Posted on 14 Mar 2006 08:41
The specialist who run personality profiles do not agree with you.-
The CIA specailist profiles create a new profile every eleven months - thats how long the average "personality trate" lasts. Most people change: to err is human - forgiveness devine - repating the same mistake stupid. Studies show that on two percent of applicanrs repeat mistakes and those who do are those who pad CV. Posted on 11 May 2006 20:06
It's very easy to want the benfit of the doubt and not have your past interfere with your future. But put yourself in the employers shoes, you cannot afford to waste valuable time and resources on an employee that is not the best candidate.
Those type of questions allow you to be honest and allows the employeer to get the right candidate for the job. I think they're great. Posted on 14 Mar 2006 12:34
what gives the right to my employer to snoop around for my past? my experience is, no single employer will give you the kind of environment you want. i'm not against them trying to get the best people as long as there's respect for other people's privacy. even America is tired of CIA. Posted on 14 Mar 2006 14:07
Goodness this sounds so harsh what has happened to choosing the right person for the right job. Do you lose someone good because of their past and what they can contribute now...I guess this would work for organisations that require someone to have a very clean slate so to speak but I dont think this is totally necessary for all instances & purposes. Posted on 22 May 2006 21:19
The most important thing for any prospective employer and employee must be that mythical creature, "culture fit." If the above questions are what you are going to ask me first, then it will become abundantly clear that we do not share any values at all. Good luck getting employees in your police state. Posted on 15 Mar 2006 10:58
I agree that some measure of "interrogation" is appropriate from an employer's point of view depending on the job, provided the prospective employee has the same rights. He or she should be made to feel comfortable inquiring about the company's ethical and moral past conduct as well as their prospective employer's individual behaviour. Cuts both ways, no? Posted on 22 Mar 2006 09:36
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