I would like to finish up this series about pre-employment screening and employee background checks with questions on customer service, compensation and how to ask tough questions about things like theft from previous employers. Questioning an applicant about these areas may not involve a large volume of questions but never the less, they should be asked. Remember this, an applicant will not answer every question with answers that you like. Job interviews are stressful for the applicant and they should be. But if you are in search for the “perfect” person you will have a long, fruitless journey. Pre-employment screening and background investigations should give you a better understanding about the person overall.
During our pre-employment screening we may learn that an applicant does not understand what customer service is or in some cases they have never worked in an area involving customer service. Your employees are a reflection of your business. The way they treat your customers will, in large part, contribute to your success or failure. So you need to understand where they are on customer service.
CUSTOMER SERVICE SKILLS
• Why is customer service important?
• Give me an example of a situation where you received good customer service.• Give me an example of a situation where you received poor customer service.• What prior experience do you have where customer service was important?
• Strong selling skills are necessary for all Sales Associates. Show me how you would sell (select an item) to a prospective customer.
During your pre-employment screening you should also ask questions about compensation. The last thing you want to do is hire someone, train them and invest your company’s resources just to have them leave because they had one expectation of compensation and benefits that differ from yours. It is expensive to bring someone on. Squandering that over a misunderstanding is to nobody’s benefit.Like the previous sections of questions you can add, modify or delete questions to fit your needs.
• What are your earning expectations?
• What type of benefits is important to you?
• How do you feel about productivity goals?
• Should sales associates be evaluated based on productivity?
• How should good performance be recognized?
Lastly, I would like to spend a little bit about how to ask tougher questions. Most of us have been in pre-employment interviews and walked away thinking, wow that was tough. What makes an interview tough? I believe that most interviewers ask glossed over questions as they are afraid of hurting someone’s feelings. They could also be afraid of driving off the candidate. I feel just the opposite. I want to know if they can handle a challenging environment. If they fold up their tent and run off at the first challenge, then do we really want them to begin with?
Candidates in a job interview are in a stressful situation. They want a job. You have a job to offer. Stress is a tool you need to understand and use to your advantage. Observe not just what they say but what the candidate does. Do they start to fidget? Do they play with their hair or moustache? Do they fiddle with a pen? Do they use their file folder or notebook as a shield? These are all things that tell you much more than their verbal answer gives you. I suggest that you mix in more stressful questions with routine questions.
We would love to know if or what a candidate has stolen from previous employers. Or even just their attitude towards theft. Do they seem ambivalent towards theft from an employer? Do they see it as no big deal? Would they look the other way if they saw another employee stealing?
So let’s find out! If you ask a question about theft during your pre-employment screening that goes something like this; “Have you ever stolen from any of your previous employers?” What answer do you expect to hear? “NO”.
First we asked a question that allowed the candidate to give a yes/no answer. I believe that you should always phrase questions so that they require a statement or an essay answer.
Second, that question addresses a behavior that everyone (well, most everyone, LOL) knows is wrong and criminal. Of course they will say no.
So let’s try a different way to get more accurate information. Create a set up before the question. It could go something like this. “Joe, we know that everyone has taken things home from their employer. Pens, paper, markers, small merchandise items, change, snacks…. So would you say the things you have taken from your previous employer would total less than $100 or more than $100?”
Remember they are under stress and you have just given them a choice of evils! Their answer may be “I have never take anything from them”. That is an acceptable answer if spontaneous and direct. But if they have to pause and think about it to mentally add everything up then that would probably warrant follow up on your part.
Their answer could also be “less than $100”. Or it was more than $100. Both of those answers require follow up. So the next question could be “let’s discuss what types of things. We are talking about small things such as pens….and merchandise but not on pallet quantities?”. “What types of merchandise?” You will be shocked at many of the things you hear. However, you must retain a calm demeanor. Simply document the answers and move on to the next questions.
I hope this series of four blogs have helped you. Even if you walked away with just a couple of new things to try or new ways to look at pre-employment screening and employee background checks then I have achieved what I set out to do.
As always, if you have questions or want more information about employee background checks, pre-employment screening or background investigations, please contact us or call toll free 1-770-426-0547.