Smart Business spoke with Perrett about the challenges of hiring qualified candidates and some popular prescreening tools in use today.
First, what are the primary concerns voiced by Human Resources Department executives these days, as the job market continues to tighten up?
More than two-thirds, or 68 percent, of HR executives have defined recruiting issues as their top concern over the next few years. And one-third indicated that keeping employment costs under control is their primary focus, according to the Spherion Emergent Workforce Study, which is conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Spherion Corp.
What can companies do to address recruiting issues and manage these costs?
One way to help avoid costly mistakes is to leverage prescreening and assessment tools during the hiring process. We’re seeing the use of these tools becoming more routine, with nearly half of companies (48 percent) indicating their use of screening methods has increased over the past five years. A large majority (71 percent) employ at least three different kinds of screening or testing programs.
What is the most popular screening tool?
By far the most common tool in use today is the background check, with almost 80 percent of companies conducting background checks of prospective employees for all levels of positions. Background checks are no longer the exclusive domain of high-risk industries, companies or positions, either. They are routinely conducted by all kinds of companies, for all kinds of jobs, to help make sure those prospective employees are who they say they are.
What other prescreening tools are commonly used?
Behavioral assessments help to reveal how prospective employees might react in certain business situations. Interestingly, credit checks have become popular even among nonfinancial companies and for jobs that are not traditional money-handling positions.
According to Spherion senior vice president Carl Greenberg, an industrial psychologist, ‘The credit check has become a general measure of responsibility and organization. For example, if you cannot organize your finances, how are you going to responsibly organize yourself for a company? Organization is a measure of responsibility.’
In addition to background and credit checks, other tools in use during the hiring process today include skills testing, behavioral interviewing and drug testing. Use of these tools in some combination can save a recruiter or hiring manager time by helping to screen out less qualified candidates and streamline the selection process.
Is there a message here for job candidates as well?
Job-seekers should be aware of the variety of prescreening tools that may be used by a prospective employer and have some idea of what facts they might reveal. For example, a candidate may want to become familiar with his or her own credit report. Candidates might want to conduct an online search of their own names to see what information comes up. It’s always a good idea to have done your homework when you are looking for new employment.
Is there any difference between large and small companies when it comes to using prescreening tools?
Our research reveals that smaller organizations those with $500 million or less in revenue are more concerned with finding qualified/skilled workers (41 percent) and keeping employment costs under control (35 percent). Yet despite the greater degree of concern, smaller companies have not increased their use of screening methods in recent years the way larger companies have.
Specifically, only 39 percent of smaller companies have increased their use of screening tools, compared to 61 percent of mid-sized firms ($500 million to $1 billion in revenue) and 66 percent of large companies ($1 billion plus). That’s quite a difference and yet any company can benefit from using these tools to identify qualified candidates and reduce their overall hiring costs.
What’s your advice for recruiting and hiring managers?
Employing a combination of these tools as a consistent component in your HR program can help reduce costly selection mistakes and streamline the hiring process. It can significantly improve your ability to make a great choice the first time.
ROBIN PERRETT is business development manager for Spherion Staffing Services in Clearwater. Reach her at (727) 536-2400 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about Spherion, visit www.spherion.com.