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Monday, January 14, 2013

Can an interview tell employers everything?

As a business owner, you sometimes have to make quick hiring decisions to fill a need. Whether it is a big project that was just landed or to fill an unexpected vacancy, you should always stick to your hiring process. Be diligent and know whom you are hiring.

I recently had a client that hired a skilled tradesman. The client conducted the normal process- interview, references, resume, not much beyond that. The work required the employee to have his own transportation, tools, etc. and that the employee would be left unsupervised at job sites. For this story we’ll call the employee George.

After a report that George did not arrive on the job site one morning, the employer learned that George had been arrested over the weekend.  The employer now had to ensure other employees completed the day’s work, figure out what happened to George, and whether he’d be back to work. We can’t control everything our employees do in their personal lives, but if you have a thorough screening process you can gain valuable insight into the employee’s character and propensity for behavior that could bring embarrassment to your company or termination for the employee.

In this case, the employer learned after the fact that George had a few things going on that could affect job performance. George had a drug addiction that caused financial and family issues. Family issues being that George had finalized a divorce and was behind on alimony and child support payments. Under Maryland law, “deadbeat dads” have their driver’s license suspended until child support is paid. Additionally, there was a warrant for George’s arrest resulting from being in arrears on child support. Over the weekend, George was stopped for speeding. A record check exposed the open warrant and suspended license. George also had too much to drink. He was arrested and his truck impounded. While George was out of jail by Monday morning, he lost his truck and tools to the captivity of the impound lot.

It may sound like I am overdramatizing events for the purpose of this post, but George’s predicament actually happened. Once you go down this path bad things have a way of accumulating. A worse situation is when someone like George shows up for work on Monday after an extremely busy weekend and is driving your company vehicle or on the showroom floor when the police catch up with him.

The point being, know whom you are hiring. Doing a few simple things could have saved this employer the personnel headaches associated with someone like George. Drug testing can show current or recent use. Driving record checks will not only show the employer the employee’s driving habits but if there are any government sanctions on the license. Thorough interviews and reference checks go a long way also. You can go beyond a simple interview and stay well within your rights as an employer. 

Having thorough hiring practices also come into play in the home. Before you hire someone to work around the house or be alone in your home, conduct a job interview. Make sure they are properly licensed. Ask for references. If it is long term employment, conduct the additional checks needed to make you comfortable in your decision to hire the person.

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