How to effectively screen your new employees

  • 19 Apr 2022

What you need to know before you start your hiring process

By Daniel Callaghan, co-founder and CEO of employee screening HR tech startup Veremark

Hiring the wrong person is headache-inducing for any small business. It’s not just the financial hit: the time and effort of training someone that soon leaves either by choice or instruction. Nor is it only the upset to the dynamics of your existing well-oiled team.

Mis-hires also carry reputational risks. Dishonesty or even criminality can have a devastating effect on a small business and its brand.

While this might seem unlikely, research has found that CV fraud is not uncommon. In fact, one in 10 UK respondents in a 2017 YouGov survey admitted to lying on their CVs, with a further 2 per cent selecting the ‘prefer not to say’ option.


And with the pandemic pushing more job interviews to take place online and employers sometimes never meeting candidates face-to-face at all, the challenge of making the right hiring choice has intensified.

Small businesses can minimise these new risks by incorporating more robust vetting measures into their hiring processes. While most workplaces will ask for references from past employers, and check that candidates have the necessary ‘right to work’ status, there are many more non-standard checks that can be deployed to help paint a clearer picture of a new employee.

Tighter ID checks

This fundamental step of verifying that someone is indeed who they say they are can be made more robust than asking a job candidate to hold their passport to the screen during a video interview or emailing copies of documents – as these methods may not pick up sophisticated forgeries.

Instead opt for checks that cover the official name of the individual, their age and place of birth, the validity of an ID document and a biometric match to their ID document. These checks can also analyse ID for signs of tampering and verify if it is indeed the candidate in the photo.

Don’t rely on trust

Many SMEs won’t check academic histories, and will rely on the candidate’s word alone. But this may be a good next step, considering the aforementioned YouGov poll which found this to be the most common area for embellishment: 40 per cent of CV fibsters lied about their qualifications.

Checking employment history, particularly ensuring that the dates for different roles match up, is also highly recommended. This can take time if done manually, though HR tech will now do the hard work for you, even scanning documents provided to check their veracity, highlighting – for example – fake degree certificates.

Social and adverse media checks

Social media checks on prospective employees, in which companies look for instances of any offensive language or inappropriate behaviour, are becoming increasingly common. One 2018 US survey by CareerBuilder found 70 per cent of HR and hiring managers use social networking sites to research job candidates during the hiring process and, of these, 57 per cent had found content that caused them not to hire candidates.


However, companies handling this in-house need to be careful they’re doing this in a legal and ethical way. Social media searches shouldn’t be treated as an opportunity to root out information that cannot be gleaned in an interview situation. They must be specifically aimed at assessing whether or not the candidate is a good fit for the role.

And be aware that mistakes can be easily made, such as confusing a prospective employee’s online profile with someone else of the same name, or misinterpreting meaning or tone when reading posts out of context. Consider using specialist employee screening software-based tools, some of which also include ‘adverse media’ checks – searches for negative news coverage about candidates –both online and in print.

Go deeper

Psychometric tests can give a much richer picture of a candidate’s capabilities and how they handle different situations, helping businesses to determine a job candidate’s fit for a role before they are hired. For that reason, they are invaluable for small businesses hiring to fill a specific skills gap.


They can be broadly split into two categories: aptitude/ability tests, which paint a picture of intelligence levels and skills, and personality profiling, which will assess traits like introversion or extroversion, intuition and perception that can help employers learn how people might behave in certain situations.

Such tests can be a good alternative to adding extra interview rounds into the hiring process and can be taken at any time that suits the candidate.

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