Here are five considerations that should be on the top of every employer’s mind in California when interviewing applicants for an open position.
1. Does the applicant’s actions back-up their interview?
Don’t come to an interview saying that you have a passion for business development and marketing, but when I review your LinkedIn page you have five connections and have never written any articles on your subject matter. You don’t have to have 1,000 connections either, but employees saying they are interested in marketing need to back this up with some actions. And no, your 1,000 followers on your Instagram account that only has pictures of where you eat and vacation does not count either.
2. Will the applicant commit the “unforgivable sin”?
Gary Vaynerchuk explains that being able to put in long hours is not a skill that he looks for in every employee. The “unforgivable sin” for Vaynerchuk is if employees cannot get along with co-workers, are disrespectful, selfish, or create conflict. How can an employer find out if an applicant is not a team player? Seeing how the applicant treats the receptionist upon arriving for the interview and how they treat the waiter at the lunch meeting can be key indicators. Calling references provided by the applicant can lead to good information. Also, asking around with colleagues and your network about people can surprisingly lead to great information about applicants. For example, it amazes me how many attorneys know of other attorneys in Los Angeles and how important one’s reputation is even in a large legal community like Los Angeles.
3. Does the employer follow-up with references provided by applicant?
It is a good practice to follow-up with the applicant’s references provided. I’m also a big proponent of conducting a search of the applicant’s background on the Internet. For some issues that may arise when an employer uses the Internet to do a search on an applicant, my previous article on the topic can be read here.
4. Does the employer understand obligations when conducting non-criminal background checks?
When conducting background checks on applicants and employees, employers need to take time to review the applicable state and federal laws that apply to background checks. LinkedIn was sued previously for violation of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) for certain background reports it generated for users of the site. In addition, under California law, the Investigative Consumer Reporting Agencies Act and the Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies Act could apply to background checks in the employment context. These laws are very complex, and employers should enter this area with the knowledge of their obligations before conducting background checks. For more information about background checks, please see my previous article here.
5. Does the employer understand state and local criminal history background check prohibitions?
Effective January 1, 2018 California employers cannot ask an applicant for employment to disclose information about criminal convictions. The new law (added as Section 12952 to the Government Code) applies to employers with 5 or more employees. Once an offer of employment has been made, employers can conduct criminal history background checks, but only when the conviction history has a “direct and adverse relationship with the specific duties of the job,” and requires certain disclosures to the applicant if employment is denied based on the background check. In addition, local governments, such as Los Angeles and San Francisco have implemented their own prohibitions on criminal history checks, and employers must also comply with these local requirements. Don’t forget about California’s prohibition on inquiring about applicant’s prior salary history as well.