How to Vet Candidates — Creating a Vetting Process for Applicants

Making hires without thoroughly vetting employees would save time on the front end, but the extensive vetting of employees actually saves an incredible amount of time.

When the vetting process for employment at your company is lacking, it means that you are more likely to make a hire who is not a great fit for the role.

Whether they have a misfit personality for your company or their experience is not as relevant as they’d like you to believe, misfit hires will leave your company before long and leave you back in square one: with a job that must be done and no one to do it.

To make hires who are a good fit with their jobs, their teams and your company, your vetting of employees needs to be thorough and designed with the requirements of the job in mind.

This post will show you:

  • How to vet applicants.
  • How to vet candidates in the interview.
  • How to vet new hires.

If you want to know how to vet someone effectively for a job, you need to identify the skills, traits and aspirations that will make someone a perfect fit for that job.

[Related: How to Recruit Informed Candidates at Scale]

Vetting Applicants

The first stage of employee vetting takes place when you receive applications from people who hope to work for your company.

At this stage, candidate vetting will be in the form of evaluating the resumes, cover letters, portfolios and other application materials submitted by applicants.

When vetting applicants, it is important to balance your desires for an “ideal hire” with the functional requirements of the job and the realities of the candidates you are capable of attracting to your job opportunity.

Factors like your company’s reputation, your location and the compensation you’re offering for the job will affect the experience level of applicants, and, unless you’re offering the salary to attract the “unicorn” or “purple squirrel” hire you’re hoping to find, you should not expect to.

Instead, focus on the skills that will allow a candidate to meet the functional requirements of the job and the experience and traits that will make a candidate a good fit for the job and your company. Fit is secondary to competency, but remember that a hire who doesn’t feel like your company is a good fit will leave prematurely.

A great method for vetting applicants is sending technical questions to all qualified applicants to complete within 24-48 hours. This way, you can begin to verify applicant skill levels and eliminate unqualified candidates without wasting time interviewing them.

Answering these questions will help you vet the application materials of candidates and decide which candidates are worth interviewing for the job.

  • What are the minimum requirements for a candidate to be an “acceptable” hire?
  • What are the qualities that would elevate an “acceptable” hire to a great hire?
  • Which skills and requirements are most directly related to successfully completing job duties and deliverables (Ruby on Rails, foreign language competency, etc.)?
  • Are there any “soft skills” that are required for completing job duties and deliverables (emotional intelligence, persuasive communication, etc.)?
  • What attributes will make a candidate a good fit for your company and how will these attributes be identified in cover letters, resumes, portfolios, etc.?
  • What attributes would make a candidate a bad fit for the job or a bad fit for your company? How will you identify these traits in applicants?

[Related: The Ultimate Screening Checklist]

Vetting Candidates in the Interview

The second stage of employment vetting for candidates is the interview. This is where you will see how skilled the candidates who “look good on paper,” actually are.

While confidence is important, some people equate confidence with competence, which is just not the case. If a job does not require the hire to be assertive or outspoken, then you should not be judging the fitness of candidates based on these attributes.

Instead of picking the loudest voice in the room, you should be looking for candidates who are confident in their knowledge and honest about what they don’t know. The last thing you want, is to hire a blow-hard whose major skills are “acting the part” or “faking it until they make it.”

The interview is also where you will be evaluating candidates for fit with your company, and it is important to have some time devoted to exploring the personality, character and aspirations of candidates. While it is good to hire people who match the personalities or personal backgrounds of your current employees, it is just as important to seek out a diversity of opinions, backgrounds and interests in the people you hire.

While you can ask candidates to solve equations or problems in the interview, this takes up time you could use to get to know candidates, and technical questions are best when sent to candidates following an interview to verify that they are as skilled as they claim to be.

Answering these questions will help you identify great candidates during the interview process.

  • Has the candidate proven that the skills and experience in their application matches their actual skills and experience?
  • How comfortable is the candidate when answering technically-leaning questions? If they struggle, is this due to interview nerves or a lack of knowledge?
  • What are the biggest challenges facing someone in this job and what kind of experience proves that a candidate has successfully met similar challenges?
  • What is the career path of someone working in the job you’re hiring for, and how much of this path is represented by roles at your company?
  • Does the candidate have any skill gaps related to the job? How easily could these skill gaps be closed with training and how long will it take?
  • Do you feel like this candidate would be a good personality fit with the employees and managers on their team? How would they compliment team member personalities?
  • Has the candidate used any language that is discriminatory or made any references to discriminatory leanings?

[Related: How to Interview and Identify Top Candidates]

Vetting New Hires

No matter how skilled a candidate is, you should be sure that you have completed all pre-hiring employee vetting procedures before they sign an employment contract.

These pre-hire vetting procedures, like background checks, are the final steps in verifying that an employee who appears to be a good hire, is the real deal.

It’s important that your process for vetting staff members is applied uniformly for all positions and that your process is compliant with state and federal employment standards. This will ensure efficiency and accuracy in your hiring process and ensure that you are not vulnerable to the legal repercussions and brand damage caused by illegal hiring practices.

Answering these questions will ensure that a new hire is qualified for your open job.

  • Has the candidate passed background checks and drug tests required by your company?
  • Have you contacted the candidate’s references and confirmed the details of their relevant employment history?
  • Have you verified that the candidate holds all valid certifications required to perform job duties?
  • Have you met all state and federal requirements for providing equal employment opportunities to applicants?
  • Does your employment contract contain all job duties and standards described in the job description as well as any changes negotiated by candidates in the pre-hire process?

Learn More & Download

Candidate Screening Checklist