The Hiring Decision: Choosing the Best Candidates

Mar 12, 2022
Applicant Tracking, Recruiting Best Practices, Recruiting Software

By now, you’ve likely whittled down your candidate pool to just a few prospects. Now it’s time to make your hiring decision!

The Goals of Your Hiring Decision

All of the hiring committee’s hard work is now put to the test. Your hiring decision should ensure the new hire has the skills and qualifications you need and quickly adds value to the team. Unfortunately, the last step can often be the hardest, as it also means saying “no” to some of the best prospects. But with a little more digging, you can be sure to hire the best candidate.

How Long Should a Hiring Decision Take?

This will depend on the role, company size, industry, applicant pool and labor market. A restaurant owner might choose a server in two weeks while a hospital takes six months to hire a heart surgeon. According to LinkedIn research, the industries/job roles with the longest hiring processes are engineering (49 days), research (48), project management (47), business development (46), finance (46) and IT (44). In contrast, the average time to hire for customer service positions is 34 days.

One thing’s for certain, companies are retooling hiring processes to fill positions faster. The employment market is too competitive to struggle with old-school methods. Not surprisingly, technology is key.

Investment in technology is imperative to support the pace of accelerated hiring needed for businesses across industries. In today’s job market, where candidates are now being pursued both nationally and internationally, and often receive multiple offers concurrently, it is critical for employers to rely on technology to expedite the hiring process. Tim Dowd, CEO of Accurate Background

What to Review Before Making Your Hiring Decision

The time has come to make a selection from your pool of top candidates. You want to be careful, but you risk losing applicants if this stage takes too long. You need to review the candidate scorecards, check references and perform a background check. Each of these tasks is important. The candidate scores measure hard and soft skills. Reference checking verifies work experience and credentials. A background check can uncover a criminal record or other red flags.

What is a Background Check?

A background check as part of a job application is a review of the applicant’s records and history. The employer wants to determine if the applicant is honest and trustworthy. They want to know if he/she poses a threat to the company in any way. For example, if the applicant has been convicted of theft or an assault, it would raise red flags.

Employers also check other information specific to the job role. For an accounting position, the employer might review the applicant’s financial records. If the applicant was highly leveraged with debt, the potential employer probably wouldn’t be comfortable letting them handle company funds.

Most employers contract with a company that specializes in performing background checks.

The purposes of a background check include the following:

  1. Confirm the applicant’s identity
  2. Determine if the applicant has a criminal record
  3. Verify the employment history listed on the resume and/or application
  4. Confirm the education listed on the resume and/or application
  5. Review the applicant’s driving record (if applicable)
  6. Check the applicant’s credit history (if applicable)

There are federal and state laws that regulate background checks. It’s important that employers understand how to conduct legal background checks.

When Should I Perform a Background Check For a Job Applicant?

Background checks are generally done following the review, before you extend an offer. However, it might make sense for you to do it at another point in the process.

What is a Reference Check?

Employers perform reference checks to evaluate and verify an applicant’s employment history. The candidate provides the names and contact information for the references on their resume or application.

There are two main types of references: professional and personal. A professional reference is usually a previous (or current) employer, manager, business associate, or client. A professional reference provides information about work history and skills.

If an applicant is new to the workforce and has no professional contacts, they might provide a personal, or character, reference. A personal reference may be a teacher, professor, coach, member of the clergy, or supervisor at a non-profit.

Reference checks vary in the types of information obtained. The employer might simply verify dates of employment and the job title. With a more extensive inquiry, the employer seeks information about the applicant’s performance in previous job roles.

Reference checks are regulated at the federal and state level.  It’s important to understand how to conduct compliant reference checks.

What if the Process Reveals Two Top Picks?

What a great problem to have! In this era of low unemployment and talent shortages, some recruiting teams can’t find one top candidate, let alone two. If this happens to you, backtrack over the evaluation process. Are there stones left unturned? For example, perhaps because of the nature of the position, you didn’t do reference checks. Now’s the time to dig deeper to gain more insight into the candidate’s background. It always helps to spend more time with both candidates. For example, you can tour the office or share a meal. Be alert to differences in the way each candidate interacts with the team. We dive deeper into this topic here: Torn Between Two Equally-Desirable Candidates? How to Choose the Right One.

Make Sure Everyone is in Agreement

The goal is to build a consensus among the hiring committee. In most companies, the hiring manager has the final say if members of the team disagree. However, it’s important to discuss each team member’s concerns. If someone doesn’t agree with the manager’s pick, they may understandably become resentful. Of course, the hiring manager can’t make everyone happy if there are disagreements. However, discussing everyone’s concerns shows respect for others’ opinions.

How Can ApplicantStack Simplify Reference and Background Checks?

ApplicantStack applicant tracking system streamlines the evaluation and hiring decision process. For example, you can trigger reference and background checks at any stage in the hiring process. The candidate provides the references on the application and the software sends emails directly to references. All feedback is imported into the candidate profile.

ApplicantStack Automation + Customization

Intelligent automation and the ability to customize prevents logjams. This is true for the background and reference checking stages as well as the other workflows in the hiring process.

  • Background screening
    • This workflow can be triggered at any stage
    • The applicant is automatically sent a screening email
  • Reference checks
    • Can be triggered at any stage in the hiring process
    • Auto emails are sent to the applicant’s references
    • Responses are imported into the candidate feedback tab

Does ApplicantStack Integrate With Background Screening Companies?

ApplicantStack integrates with several background screening companies and we’re adding more all the time. Our current background screening partners are Verified First, Accurate Now, Amerisearch, CareerBuilder Employment Screening, DISA, and Trak-1.

Select Your Next Employee

Based on the feedback during the previous steps, you can now make your selection of the top choice candidate. When this stage is finished, you are ready to offer the job!

This article is part of our comprehensive series on hiring employees.

Liz Strikwerda

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