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What employment checks must I carry out to ensure I recruit best people for the job?


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Q I am recruiting a number of people and want to ensure that I am carrying out robust pre-employment checks. Can you advise on how I can do this? What checks can I carry out and what guidelines do you recommend around these checks?

A Conducting pre-employment checks should always be a 'must do' in your recruitment process. It's at the short-listing stage before a potential offer is made to a candidate that an employer should conduct background checks, in order to firstly ascertain can the candidate do the job. The pre-employment checks can help prevent you from hiring the wrong fit for your organisation. Here are some examples of checks that you can conduct to help you make the right hiring decision:

Verbal/Written References

The most relied upon form of a pre-employment check is a verbal reference from a past employer.

  • Ensure you ask the applicant for their permission to contact their former employer;
  • You should ask standardised questions for all applicants and never ask for personal information about the applicant;
  • All questions should be related to the candidate's abilities and aptitude for the job. Ensure you confirm the job title of the person giving the reference, to ensure it's not a former work colleague with no authority to do so.

Qualification verification

Candidates can easily falsify themselves on their CV. The best way to check qualifications stated by the candidate is by validating true certificate copies at source from the awarding academic bodies and professional institutions. It is possible to access service providers that can clarify whether qualifications are Irish or global. These checks are carried out in line with GDPR requirements and ensure that companies remain fully compliant.

Right to work in the country

If an applicant is a foreign national you must verify original documents to verify their 'right to work'. We would recommend that, during the recruitment process, you request valid documents - such as a passport - to prove a candidate's entitlement to work in Ireland before they begin work.

Requests can be made to all candidates in order to prevent claims of discrimination. You must request the original document.

Workplace personality assessments

Workplace personality assessments are mainly used to find employees whose personalities align with the workplace culture. The assessments generally measure personalities in line with the Big Five factor model - agreeableness, conscientiousness, extraversion, emotional stability and openness.

Aptitude and practical skills testing are often used to assess the suitability of a candidate for a particular role and now personality tests are becoming increasingly popular also. These assessments measure employee characteristics and dispositions and give employers an idea of probable attitudes and behaviours that the company may face if they hire that employee.

Social media

Employers must be aware of using social media as a means to look at a candidates background but there is no doubt that there has been an increase of employers using social media to check a candidate's background.

The golden rules when completing pre-employment checks are:

  • Let candidates know in advance the process of the pre-employment checks you will be doing;
  • Be compliant with data protection law and ensure non-discrimination;
  • Ensure questions asked and information required are relevant to the role that you are filling;
  • Make your decision based on facts and not on opinions;
  • Ensure all candidates are subject to the same pre-employment checks.

Caroline McEnery, managing director of The HR Suite, is a member of the Low Pay Commission and is an adjudicator in the Workplace Relations Commission

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