Does your business conduct a background investigation before hiring a new employee? If not you might be inviting trouble in your workplace. There is always a measure of risk involved in hiring a new employee. Will they have the skills to do the job you are hiring them to perform? Will they become an attendance problem? Do they have a criminal record you may not be aware that they have? If they do, what is that record for, theft, assault, driving while intoxicated? The task of hiring new people is not easy and if not done properly it can cause problems for you and your store.
Do you need an example? How about this story from montrealgazette.com,“Fake nurse in Quebec discovered and fired – after 20 years on the job”, by Presse Canadienne, June 1, 2019. The story reports on a woman who had worked in various departments of the hospital over the course of 20 years. According to the report, “Before being exposed, the woman had worked in several departments of the hospital, including the operating room.” The story also says, “Over the years, the documents asked of her were provided – falsified documents.” This should give you a moment of pause while considering the potential ramifications this could have had to patients in this hospital. Someone can provide documentation to “prove” qualifications but without conducting thorough pre-employment screening an owner or manager can be fooled.
To show that this is not restricted to the medical field an article in voiceofsandiego.org, “San Diego Unified Moved a Problem Principle to Districtwide Role, Then Paid Him to Leave”, by Will Huntsberry, April 2, 2019. This story reports a principle, “…appeared to have falsified his credentials – presenting a Ph.D. from a University in England that seemed to be nothing more than a website.” More than just a problem of being in a position he was not qualified to hold, it seems from the story that the subject of this story had also been involved in sexual harassment and created a hostile work environment at a high school he had previously worked in. You may not be running a school but you are running a business and your employees are counting on you to maintain a safe workplace. A background investigation can validate credentials of your potential new hires before you bring them on your team.
Pre-employment screening done by a reliable company can help a business avoid a wide range of potential problems. If you require drivers for deliveries you will want to make sure the applicants have clean driving records. Are you seeking to hire an account for your bookkeeping? Hire a background investigation company that can validate the credentials of a promising candidate. If you own a retail business you have multiple employees. Keep them safe from a new co-worker who could be a sexual predator. A pre-employment check can include a review of the national sex offender registry to ensure your candidate is not listed. The right company can tailor screenings to include those areas you believe are most critical to your business. If you aren’t sure what those areas should be that company should be able to help guide you based on your business and what the position will entail.
Since most of the readers will be retail owners and managers I would also point out that pre-employment screening can lead to a reduction in stock shortage. Employee theft accounts for roughly 1/3 of all merchandise shortage. By conducting a background investigation on applicants a store owner greatly reduces the chance that a future criminal will be hired. If background checks are part of a comprehensive shortage reduction plan that also includes manager training to reduce employee theft and the installation of a Sensormatic security system, risk of internal theft can almost be wiped out.
As we all know one-stop shopping is the easiest and often most efficient way to get everything done. How can anyone bundle a background investigation, a Sensormatic system and manager training without having to look all over the internet? How can anyone do this and be confident they will get reputable resources for each of these needs? Loss Prevention Systems, Inc. has the solution for all of these and more. When it comes to shortage and theft reduction this company has the retail and investigation experience to help any store owner know matter how big or small the company. Hiring the right people and improving profitability for stores is what they specialize in and they can do the same for you.
Need more information on a background investigation? Call us at 1.770.426.0547 and let’s talk.
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.
In part three of this blog, pre-employment screening, I am going to discuss job expectations and previous work history. The section about job expectation may only have four questions but that does not diminish its importance. You must not only assess what the candidate’s expectations are such as how employees are treated, their work environment, their job skills and knowledge, as it relates to the position but what you expect. What things are important to you? Arriving on time, overtime, ethics, theft of company property, cash, merchandise… and so on. I have found that you must address these things up front and also show that you are not afraid to discuss them and that you have knowledge of these areas.
Previous work history is also an area requiring depth. We want to find out about their work history and attitudes. Is everything the previous employer’s fault, do they talk favorably about most of their work there or is it just complaint after complaint? If you see this as a pattern about previous jobs what makes you think it will be any better at your company? Oh, you may be thinking to yourself ”I can do it better”. Chances are they did most things correctly and of course we have all had jobs where we were glad to be gone from that company. However, if this seems to be a pattern, then this is something to be concerned with. For quite a number of years I consulted for a large, multi-billion dollar company. Something that impressed me was that their entire management team down to virtually everyone understood that it was better to work short-handed than to have one employee that drug everyone else down or had poor performance.
Much of what I want you to look for is patterns. Are the same things following this candidate through their work history both positive and negative? If it is a pattern of positives such as solid performance, always willingly looking to do a job better than just to get by and striving to be the best, follows them in deeds and words, they may be a keeper. Someone with a pattern of it is everyone else’s fault or a lack of understanding in work rules may be one you want to pass on.
This is a lot to keep track of so you should consider an Applicant Management Center (AMC). Loss Prevention Systems’ Applicant Management Center allows your candidates to apply online from your web site (AMC is hosted on our servers). Your custom branded application is interactive. For example, if you have a question such as “Have you managed people before” and they answer yes, a follow up question that would automatically populate could be “Tell us about your management style…” But if they answered no to that question, the system could follow up with “If you have never managed people before what makes you feel qualified to do so for us?”
Our Job Applicant Management Center also tracks the applicant all the way through the process. It can be separated by store, hiring manager, recruiter…. Set reminders, send forms directly to applicants, accept their resume and any other documents you require. You can initiate a background investigation, DOT physical, drug testing and more through us with the click of a mouse.
Our drug testing and background investigations have a very fast turnaround. If you want more information on Loss prevention Systems’ Applicant Management Center, click here or contact us.
• What is your interest in this position?
• What made you select this company as opposed to other employers?
• What knowledge do you have about working at the company and why is that appealing to you?
• What are your expectations of the company?
PREVIOUS WORK HISTORY
• Review each position listed on the application. Be sure to review: title, length of time at job, responsibilities, reason for leaving, salary.
• Which of your previous positions was your favorite? Why?
• Which of your previous positions did you like the least? Why?
• Describe the supervisor you like working for the most. Why?
• Describe the supervisor you liked least. Why?
• Have you had difficulty getting along with a former professor/supervisor/co-worker and how did you handle it?
• Have you ever spoken before a group of people? How large?
• Give me an example in a previous position where you delivered great customer service. What did you do?• Give an example of a situation in which you provided a solution to an employer.
• Give an example of a time in which you worked under deadline pressure.• What professional experience do you hope to gain from working at the Company?
• Are you looking for promotional opportunities? If so, what are they?
• How long were you planning on working at the company?
• Our sales positions require a combination of selling and non-selling duties. How do you feel about those responsibilities?
• What job-related skills have you developed?
• Did you work while going to school? In what positions?
• What did you learn from these work experiences?
• Have you ever quit a job? Why?
• How do you think a former supervisor would describe your work?
If you have any questions on Pre-employment screening, drug testing or background investigations, contact us or call toll free 1-770-426-0547.
As part of our pre-employment screening we will conduct a face to face interview. The questions in this blog, part 2 of 4, discuss the position the candidate is looking for and what scheduling are they looking for or open to. It would be a shame to spend a tremendous effort and hire the candidate just to find out that this was not the position they were “really looking for” but just something to get them by until the real deal came along. Or, they thought their schedule would be one thing but is completely different. Remember, you invest a tremendous amount of time in not just the process of hiring but into training someone. That is money off your bottom line. Get it right the first time and be further ahead.
You should also consider employment drug screening as a standard part of your employment package. Once you have made your decision to offer a position then the candidate should be sent in for drug testing. Employment drug screening has come a long ways over the years. Cost is significantly better, there is very quick turnaround and scheduling is automated and on-line. If you are not requiring drug testing, the question is why not? Drugs including marijuana are still prevalent in our society. Illegal and legal drugs have a significant impact on an employee’s ability to perform their tasks properly and safely. Even a Cashier that is high could injure another employee or a customer. You would be liable for those injuries. This could have been prevented with simple drug testing.
If you want more information about Loss Prevention Systems employment drug screening and our nationwide automated drug testing program, reach out to us at 1-770-426-0547 x103.
Now back to the next set of pre-employment screening questions. Again, this list is not exhaustive. You will want to look at how you interview and the way you ask questions. Change these to fit your needs but keep the intent of the question correct. Remember that there are questions you cannot ask an applicant. For example, questions related to race, religion, age, and so on are illegal to ask. You also cannot ask a candidate if they own a car to get to work. That has been deemed to be discriminatory. However, you can ask them if they have a reliable way to get to and from work.
• What type of position are you interested in? Why?
• What area of our company would you like to work in? Why?
• What other types of positions are you considering?
• Do you prefer to work under supervision or on your own?
• What kind of boss do you prefer?
• Would you be successful working with a team?
• Do you prefer large or small organizations? Why?
• How do you feel about working in a structured environment?
• Are you able to work on several assignments at once?
• Why should we hire you rather than another candidate?
• What do you know about our organization (products or services)?
• Are you looking for Full Time, Day Part Time or Part Time?
• What hours would you like to work?
• Do you prefer a set schedule or one that rotates?
• What other full time or part time commitments would you have while employed with us? For example, school, other job
• Are you available to work on weekends and holidays?
• How would you feel if you were asked to stay later than your scheduled departure time?
• How do you feel about travel?
• How do you feel about the possibility of relocating?
• Are you willing to work flextime?
For all interviews you should document your questions and the candidate’s responses. Those documents should be attached and filed with their other documents. I have had situations where candidates have come back and accused the interviewer of some form of discrimination because they asked some question. Having your interview notes goes a long way to thwarting that kind of attack.
If you have any questions about or would like more information about pre-employment screening, drug testing or employment drug screening, please contact us or call toll free 1-770-915-0547.
How do you stop employee theft and shoplifting? Well, when you are a Loss Prevention Manager for a major retail store you may hire Loss Prevention Officers. Unfortunately we don’t always have the ability to see how well an employee is going to work out. I for one have made my share of poor hiring decisions. Sometimes people look great on paper and may even excel at interviewing but boy can they make life miserable when they get hired. One such hire for me seemed like he would be competent according to his resume and application. I did see one place on his resume which caused me some minor concern but other than that the interview went well, our background check company cleared him (but to what extent he was investigated I don’t know) and we brought him onboard. I had an employee theft case I started investigating and asked this employee if he knew how to tie into a CCTV camera cable for a covert camera. He told me he did and he was anxious to help. I gave him the okay, made sure he and the other associate knew what the plan was and I went home. There may have been a better outcome had I tested his knowledge before leaving for the day because his training was lacking. I’ll finish my story shortly but it brings up two questions I have for store managers.
What kind of employee theft reduction training do you have for your managers and do you incorporate employee background checks as part of your strategy to reduce employee theft? The two questions are not mutually exclusive. Pre-employment screening can be a tool for reducing the chances of hiring dishonest employees. The right screening company will allow you to choose what you want to have investigated. In the case of my employee if I had been given options I would have asked for that question from the resume to be investigated. Why did he have this gap or oddity on his resume? Did he actually have the experience he said he had? You can keep from making a similar mistake and ensure your employees are who they present themselves to be by using the right pre-employment screening company. Theft reduction training for non-Loss Prevention personnel is also much different than the training for Loss Prevention Associates. Theft reduction training for store managers and employees will not include running covert cameras, or conducting surveillance on shoplifters. It should include being able to identify suspicious behaviors, how to use electronic article surveillance technology to deter theft and the impact of customer service on theft prevention. Employee theft reduction for managers is or should be conducted by a business with experienced Loss Prevention trainers. Have them do the training and you won’t need to ask the follow-up questions I should have asked my employee.
So what was it I failed to do and what was the result? Well, I took my employee’s word for what he told me, that he knew how to splice into a CCTV cable to run a separate line. The purpose was so that I could conduct surveillance in an area of the stockroom where suspected employee theft was taking place. The idea was fantastic, the execution horrible. I received a call from my store manager telling me my Associate had cut the ALARM cable to the building and he wanted to know what I was going to do about it. I had to go back to the store, see what my employee had done and then contact the alarm company. I also had to contact MY District Loss Prevention Manager and explain what had transpired. As I recall I also had to stay overnight in the building since the alarms were not working properly…did I mention my employees tried to splice the alarm wire back together? The alarm technician came out the next day and repaired the screw-up.
I wound up setting the covert camera myself and I did finally catch the dishonest employee but at quite a cost. I also eventually fired the Associate. After this I always made sure I spent a great deal of time training one of my Associates before allowing them to help me with an employee theft investigation. For you employee theft reduction training can be much easier than it was for me. Use a background check company so you don’t have as many workers stealing from you and hire a company specializing in Loss Prevention training to do your training for you. Trust me the results will be so much better than what I went through.
Get more information on employee theft reduction training, contact us or call 1.770.426.0547