How to Improve your Hiring Practices

A company is defined by the people it employs. All too often, companies reflect back on an employee’s performance and wonder why they did not catch an obvious error in a job application, interview or background check. One of the reasons these red...


Following the application and interview process, the next step in the CLEAN hiring practice is to focus on ensuring that background checks are conducted thoroughly and in compliance with the law.

Once the interviews are complete, a pre-employment screening, or background check, should always be conducted for each applicant who is still being considered. While a background check will not detect every potential problem of an applicant, it will limit and discourage bad hires, and will provide evidence that the employer has done its due diligence.

This screening process is extremely important because the cost associated with a bad hire can be devastating for a company. You may consider outsourcing the screening process to a third party, as it could save you time and energy.

A proper pre-employment screening does not mean that each applicant must be screened the same way. However, similarly situated applicants – a manager position, for example – should all receive the same level of scrutiny.

In determining how much scrutiny to place on an applicant, consider the difficulty faced in replacing a new hire and, most importantly, the damage that could be done if an inexperienced and/or incompetent person is hired for that position.

Just as important as the information gathered during the background check is how the information is gathered. Specifically, you must ensure that you acquire authorization from an applicant to conduct certain pre-employment screening and provide notices in compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act and applicable state law. Companies should consult with counsel to obtain the requisite documents.


Acquiring the pre-hire and new-hire documentation for employee personnel files and separately maintained Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification) files is the penultimate step in the CLEAN hiring practice.

Once the potential candidate becomes your employee, it is imperative that your company create and maintain that employee’s personnel file. All relevant documents, including job application, originals of any documents provided by the employee during the application process, new hire packet information, training acknowledgments, payroll information and executed offer letters are traditionally the first set of documents included in a personnel file.

A recommended course of action is to ensure that Form I-9s are kept in separate files, as well as HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) protected information.

Whenever litigation arises, an employee file is a key set of documents that is used.


The final component of the CLEAN hiring practice is never forgetting that the employee handbook is the most important document maintained by a company, from an employee relations perspective. A well-written and up-to-date employee handbook can be a litigation lifesaver, but an out-of-date handbook can be your worst nightmare.

Unfortunately, many employers don't give their employee handbooks the attention they deserve, employing 20-year-old sets of policies that are hopelessly outdated. Fortunately, with a few easy steps, you can have your handbook up and running the way it should be.

Before you begin, however, you should stop to think about the purpose of your employee handbook. The goal should be to set forth your company's policies and expectations clearly and unambiguously, while preserving the flexibility you need to make decisions.

Keep in mind that the policies in the employee handbook should reflect the company's practices, and vice versa.

Ideally, a company's employee handbook should be reviewed and updated annually. Employment laws change frequently, especially at the state level, and policies that were perfectly fine several years ago may be incomplete or problematic today.

Check to see whether your company is subject to new employment laws based on its size. If you have offices in various states, do not assume that a "one-size-fits-all" handbook can be applied uniformly to all employees in every state.

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