It Is Getting More Difficult to Screen Applicants
It Isn't Your Imagination
By Michael C. Dennis MBA,
It is getting more difficult to screen applicants to determine who
should be called in for an interview, who should be invited to meet
the hiring manager, and who should be offered a position with the company.
There are many reasons that selecting and hiring the right person has
become more difficult including these:
Companies don't promise lifetime employment, or that the company
will do everything possible to avoid layoffs if and when business
takes a downturn. As a result, workers do not have the same degree
of loyalty to their employers as they did in previous generations.
As a consequence, some well-qualified applicants may have less than
ideal work histories. They may have done some 'job-hopping' -- spending
relatively short periods of time at one or more previous jobs.
At one time, the fact that an applicant had been laid off was
an indication that the individual might be something less than the
ideal job candidate. This is no longer necessarily true. Employees
are being laid off is record numbers, and often their dismissal has
nothing to do with their job performance.
At one time, breaks in employment were uncommon. An applicant
that explained a break in their employment as resulting from the
need to take time off to handle one or more personal issues might
be seen as a potential malcontent. Today, employers want but don't
necessarily expect to see an unbroken work history, and are often
more willing to accept a 'quality of life' explanation for extended
breaks in employment.
At one time, a company could call or write to an applicant's former
employer, speak to their former supervisor, ask specific questions
and would often receive a candid [and sometimes unflattering] assessment
of the applicant's job skills and work ethic. Today, because of changes
in State laws and the potential for litigation, most employers conducting
background checks find it difficult to get useful information from
an applicant's former employers. In many cases, even with a release
signed by the applicant a potential employer is lucky to get dates
of employment, job title and compensation.
What does all this mean to the hiring manager and the company's human
resources department? It means that the human resources department
cannot arbitrarily or mechanically dismiss applicants on the basis
of any of the issues/problems listed above. Instead the human resources
department and/or the hiring manager must develop better interviewing
skills. Both the manager and the H/R representative need to gather
and if necessary tease information from job applicants in order to
understand their accomplishments, their failures, and their strengths
and their weaknesses.
The information contained in this publication is not legal advice,
and is not a substitute for legal advice. Readers are encouraged research
issues and questions carefully, and to contact an attorney in their
State to clarify any questions or issues raised after reading any of
the items in this publication.