Tag Archives: Interviewing

Employment Screening Resources CEO Attorney Lester Rosen to Present Webcast with Video Interviewing Leader Montage


Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

Attorney Lester Rosen, Founder and CEO of Employment Screening Resources (ESR), will present a webcast with video interviewing leader Montage titled “Video Interviewing & Compliance – Getting Up, Over & Beyond the Hesitation” on Wednesday, September 16, 2015 from 11:00 a.m. to 12 p.m. Pacific Time. To register, visit http://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5307339697510808321. Continue reading

Video Interviewing and Discrimination Webcast Scheduled for March 19


Video Interviewing & Discrimination - What Talent Acquisition Leaders Need to Know

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

Attorney Lester Rosen, Founder and CEO of Employment Screening Resources (ESR), will present a live webcast titled ‘Video Interviewing and Discrimination: What Talent Acquisition Leaders Need to Know’ with video interviewing solution provider Montage through the Human Capital Institute (HCI) on Thursday, March 19, 2015 at 3:00 PM EDT/12:00 Noon PM PDT. To register, please visit http://www.hci.org/lib/video-interviewing-and-discrimination-what-talent-acquisition-leaders-need-know. Continue reading

Employment Screening Resources Releases Whitepaper with Montage on Video Interviewing and Discrimination

Video Interviewing & Discrimination - What Talent Acquisition Leaders Need to Know

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – ‘The Background Check Authority®’ – has released a new whitepaper sponsored by leading video interviewing solution provider Montage titled ‘Video Interviewing & Discrimination – What Talent Acquisition Leaders Need to Know.’ The complimentary whitepaper is available for download at http://www.esrcheck.com/Stay-Updated/Download/. Continue reading

Five Questions Employers Should Ask Job Applicants in Interviews for Safe Hiring

By Lester Rosen, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) President

The job interview, along with being an opportunity to find applicants who are a good fit for a company, is also when employers should perform due diligence and try to identify applicants who may be too dangerous, unqualified, unfit, or dishonest for the position.

While employers would not want to start the interview off with questions aimed at past criminal conduct or negative employment experiences, every interview must have a “safe hiring” portion where the job applicant is asked due diligence questions. This would be an appropriate time for the following five suggested due diligence questions to be asked in every interview:

  • “Our firm has a standard policy of conducting background checks on all hires before an offer is made or finalized. You have already signed a release form. Do you have any concerns about that?” This is a general question about background screening. Since applicants should have already signed a consent form for a background check, they have a powerful incentive to be truthful, honest, and reveal any issues.
  • “We also check for criminal convictions for all finalists. Do you have any concerns about that?” This question goes from the general to the specific. Employers should ask the question in a form that is legally permissible in their state of operation. It is important not to ask questions that are so broadly worded that they may lead to applicants revealing more information then allowed by law. Again, employers should make sure applicants understand that they signed a release for a background check and this process is standard company policy.
  • “When we contact your past employers, what do you think they will say?” This general question, which indicates past employers will be contacted, again provides a powerful incentive to be very accurate.
  • “Will your past employers tell us that there were any issues with meeting job requirements?” This question goes again from a general to a specific area, asking about matters that are expressly relevant to the job function or the workplace.
  • “Tell me about any unexplained gaps in your employment history.” If there are any unexplained employment gaps, it is imperative for employers to ask about them to make sure the employment gap was not a result of some negative situation such as the applicant being in custody for a criminal offense.

Employers should always indicate that these five suggested due diligence questions are standard job-related questions asked of all applicants and that they need to be answered. Asking standard written questions in an interview allows for a consistent process so that all applicants are subjected to the same questions. Standard questions also create a more comfortable environment for the interviewers since they do not have to remember every question asked because the questions are written down. If the questions on safe hiring issues make applicants feel uncomfortable, interviewers can simply indicate that these questions are asked of everyone and they are required due to standard company policy.

To help design their own interview template, including these five due diligence questions, employers may access the Free Online Interview Guide Generator Tool from Employment Screening Resources at http://www.esrcheck.com/Interviewgenerator.php.

Founded in 1996 in the San Francisco area, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) wrote the book on background checks with ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’ by ESR founder and President Lester Rosen and is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) . To learn more about Employment Screening Resources, visit http://www.ESRcheck.com or contact Jared Callahan, ESR Director of Client Relations, at 415.898.0044 or jcallahan@ESRcheck.com.

Source: http://www.esrcheck.com/Five-Due-Diligence-Questions-Asked-In-Every-Interview.php

ESR Releases Free Online Structured Interview Generator Tool Available to Employers, Recruiters and Human Resources

By Lester Rosen, ESR President

(Originally posted on HR.Tolbox.com)

A new free online tool allows employers to easily create custom interview guides with an interview generator form.

One of the problems that face employers of all sizes is preparing for interviews. Most recruiters, human resources professionals and hiring managers are now familiar with the notion of a structured interview. Using a “structured interview” guide during applicant interviews helps employers ask permissible questions in a consistent fashion for all applicants for a position.

Of course, in addition to standard interview questions, employers need to add job specific questions that stem from the job description and the knowledge, skills and abilities required for a position, as well as the essential functions of the job. That is yet another reason why well written job description is so critical in the hiring process.

In order to assist employers in preparing structured interviews, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) has released the ESR Interview Guide Generator, a free web based interview generator to help employers build printed interview forms for any position. The wizard tool allows employers to select from generic interview questions, or to create their own questions, put the questions in the order they need and then create a printed form that can be saved or modified.

This free tool solves several issues for employers. It helps employers, recruiters and HR professionals produce a printed structured interview guide and focus on developing relevant questions for each position. Printed interview forms also help employers ensure that interviewers are asking the right questions every time, in the right way. Using a “structured interview” guide helps employers ask permissible questions in a consistent fashion for all applicants for a position. An employer should only choose those questions that are valid predictors of job performance for a particular position.

The ESR Interview Guide Generator tool is available at no charge online at: http://www.esrcheck.com/Interviewgenerator.php.

The tool allows employers to choose from standard interview questions, or to create their own questions. Questions are grouped into sections and are displayed on the completed form within these groups. An employer may customize however they want, including adding custom questions, or changing the sections that the chosen questions are placed.

Once the interview is built online, the Finish tab will display the interview form. When the employer is ready, they can click the print button on the Finish tab. The free tool does not save the form so it should be pasted onto a WORD document for future reference.

The sample questions listed are questions that appear in various public sources suggesting commonly used interview questions. By use of the “Custom Question” section at the end, an employer can create any questions they wish and put them into any section they wish. ESR offers no legal opinion whatsoever if any question is legal or appropriate. An employer should contact its attorney if there are any questions as to the legality of any interview question. This information is provided for educational purposes and general assistance only and is not offered or intended as legal advice.

For more information about employment screening, visit Employment Screening Resources (ESR) at http://www.ESRcheck.com.



Background checks and your career

Two recent articles on the leading career site, The Ladders, feature background screening expert Lester Rosen on the role that employment screening may play in a job search.  The Ladders is the world’s largest community catering exclusively to the $100k+ job market. 

According to the articles by author Kevin Fogarty: 

Recruiters and investigators who conduct employment background checks advise job seekers to know what their records will say to a potential employer and be prepared to correct or explain them in an interview. 

“If they got a degree at a diploma mill, that will be revealed in a respectable background check; if they didn’t work at an employer they listed, or didn’t have the job title they said they had, that will come out,” said Les Rosen, former California deputy district attorney; president of Employment Screening Resources of Novato, Calif.; and founding member of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners. 

The problem for job seekers is that there isn’t a lot they can do to keep “secrets” under wraps while they’re job-searching or even afterward. If you have a black mark on your record, expect it to surface, Rosen said. “When a person with something minor in their background tries to hide it, they are taking a risk.” 

The article also discusses the fact that so much information is now available online: 

“Derogatory information honestly revealed and discussed by the applicant is much less harmful than if it’s discovered by a third party,” ESR’s Rosen said. “Even if the company’s not really looking, one of the most productive sources of background checks is co-workers. 

“If you’re a six-figure person, you have to start with the assumption there are a lot of people working with you or under you who are interested and are going to look you up,” he said. “They’re ready to go on the Internet and see if you’re a sex offender – because that information isn’t hard for consumers to find – or what degrees you’re claiming in your LinkedIn profile or other business connection, and whether you ever went there.”

 The full article is available at:  http://www.theladders.com/career-advice/background-check-makes-tough-interview-questions A companion article discusses what can be found in a background check, at:  http://www.theladders.com/career-advice/anatomy-background-check

For more information on Employment Screening Resources, see: www.ESRcheck.com

employment screening and liars at interviews

An article on NPR, “Spotting Lies: Listen, Don’t Look,” confirms what ESR has been advising employers for some time: people are not nearly as good a they think they are at detecting liars.  Even highly trained interviewers can make mistakes. See:   http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=111809280 

This article underscores again that employers are at a big disadvantage if they are relying on job interviews to avid bad hiring decisions.   Good applicants that are nervous may come off poorly at an employment interview while practiced liars can look you in the eye and you would never know it.  This is yet another  reason that when it comes to employment decisions, employers need objective and verifiable criteria.  This gives new meaning to, “Trust but verify.”

For more information, see the  following ESR post all about why employers cannot rely on job interviews to detect liars, found at:


Free Interview Generator creates standardized questions for Human Resources and hiring managers

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) has released a free web based interview guide generator to help employers build printed interview forms for any position. The tool allows employers to select from generic interview questions, or to create their own questions, and then create a printed form that can be saved or modified.

 The tool also gives employers the flexibility of adding their own question to different sections of the interview guide. 

This free tool solves several issues for employers. It helps employers and HR professionals produce a printed structured interview guide and focus on developing relevant questions for each position. Printed interview forms also help employers ensure that interviewers are asking the right questions every time, in the right way. It  helps to ensure that all applicants for a position  are treated fairly and uniformly  Using a “structured interview “guide helps employers ask permissible questions in a consistent fashion for all applicants for a position. An employer should only choose those questions that are valid predictors of job performance for a particular position.  The tool was created by employment screening background check expert Lester Rosen.

The tool can be found at:  http://www.esrcheck.com/Interviewgenerator.php

Cost Effective Employment Screening and Safe Hiring Techniques for Large Employers

American industries that hire large numbers of hourly, temporary or seasonal employees are caught in a Catch-22. 

On one hand, they know that if they don’t take measures to conduct pre-employment screening and exercise due diligence in hiring, it is a statistical certainly they are sitting ducks for expensive litigation, workplace violence, false claims, theft, embezzlement and economic loss.

Just one bad hire can cost a firm literally millions. Studies show that screening reveals criminal records for up to 10% of job applicants, and at least one-third of all resumes contain materials falsehoods. For food establishments, manufactures, hotels and other business that have a national brand, one negative employee caused event can result in damaging national publicity and significant harm to the brand. 

The catch, however, is that large hourly employers face enormous financial and logistical challenges in implementing safe hiring programs. Screening large numbers can be expensive and time consuming. Some industries hire at multiple locations, and can experience large turnover.

The problem is compounded when firms hire seasonal, temporary or contract workers as well.  Such industries can include hospitality, manufacturing, service, retail, food and restaurants, and tourism. The challenge is how industries with a large numbers of hourly, seasonal, temporary or contract workers or significant turnover, can protect themselves in a cost-effective and efficient manner.

The answer is probably less complicated then it first appears-due diligence and safe hiring does not require a large budget when employers implement a safe hiring system, as opposed to buying background checks. 

Many firms make the mistake of believing that in order to show due diligence, they need to spend a great deal of money to perform background checks and criminal record research. These firms view pre-employment screening as a process that starts after a hiring manager has selected an applicant, and the name is submitted to security or human resources for a background report. Depending upon the employer, it is either outsourced to a background company or investigated internally through corporate security. 

An effective background-screening program, however, does not need to cost a great deal of money because it is much more then just checking background and criminal records after a candidate has been selected. In fact, in an effective safe hiring system, the primary tools are the application, interview and reference checking process, also known as the AIR process. These processes are performed in-house as part of the routine hiring program, and do not cost employers a dime, as long as it is followed. A brief review of the AIR process is contained in the attached Safe Hiring Checklist. 


1. Use an application form, not just resumes.

Use of an employment application form is considered a best practice. Resumes are not always complete or clear. Applications ensure both uniformity and that all needed information is obtained, prevents employers from having impermissible information, and provides employers with a place for applicants to sign certain necessary statements. 

2. Make sure the application form contains all necessary language.

a. Use the broadest possible language for felony and misdemeanor convictions and pending cases. One of the biggest mistakes employers make is to only ask about felonies on an application form since misdemeanors can be very serious. Employers should inquire about misdemeanors to the extent allowed in their state.

b. Statement that criminal records do not automatically disqualify an applicant. This is important for EEOC compliance. It is critical for employers to understand that the background screening is conducted to determine whether a person is fit for a particular job. Society has a vested interest in giving ex-offenders a chance. However, an employer is under a due diligence obligation to make efforts to determine if a person is reasonable fit for a particular position. For example, a person just out of custody for a violent crime would not be a good candidate for a job that require them to go into people’s home, but may perform very well on a supervised work crew. If a criminal record is found, an employer must determine if there is a business reason not to hire the person, based upon the nature and gravity of the offense, the nature of the job and when the crime occurred. There are also limitations to the use of arrests not resulting in a conviction, and a number of states also have rules about criminal records.

c. Statements that lack of truthfulness or material omissions are grounds to terminate the hiring process or employment no matter when they are discovered. This is particularly important if a criminal record is found. Although a criminal record may not be used automatically to disqualify an applicant, the fact an applicant has lied about a criminal matter can be the basis for an adverse decision. 

3. Require a release for a background check in the application process. Have each job applicant sign a consent form for a background check, including a check for criminal records, past employment and education. Announcing that your firm checks backgrounds may discourage applicants with something to hide, and encourage applicants to be truthful and honest about mistakes they have made in the past. If a firm outsources to a third party vendor, then under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), there must be a disclosure on a separate standalone document. 

4. Review the application carefully. In most instances, when there is an employee problem or lawsuit, a careful review of the application would have alerted the employer in advance that they were hiring a lawsuit waiting to happen, Look for the following red flags:

Applicant does not sign application.

Applicant does not sign consent or background screening.

Applicant leaves criminal questions blank (the honest criminal syndrome-dopes not want to lie about a criminal past).

Applicant self-reports a criminal violation (Applicants can self report matters incorrectly.)

Applicant fails to explain why he or she left past jobs,

Applicant fails to explain gaps in employment history.

Applicant gives an explanation for an employment gap or the reason leaving previous job that does not make sense.

Excessive cross-outs and changes (as though making it up as they go along) 

Applicant fails to give complete information (i.e. insufficient information to identify a past employer, leaves out salary, etc).

Applicant failed to indicate or cannot recall the name of a former supervisor. 

5. In reviewing applications, look for unexplained employment gaps.

It is critical to verify past employment to determine where a person has been for the last 5-10 years, even if you only get dates and job titles. Look for unexplained gaps in employment. Generally, if you can verify that a person was gainfully employed for the last five to ten years, or their whereabouts can be verified it is less likely the person spent time in custody for a serious offense, although this does not eliminate the possibility of lesser offenses.

6. In reviewing applications, examine reasons for leaving each job.

7. Always ask these five questions (during housekeeping stage of interview). Since they have signed consent and believe you are doing checks, applicants have a powerful incentive to be truthful. These questions are the equivalent of a New Age Lie detector test.  Good applicants will shrug it off and applicants with something to hide may reveal vital information. 

a. We do background checks on everyone we make an offer to. Do you any concerns about that you would like to discuss? (Good applicants will shrug off)

b. We also check for criminal convictions for all finalists. Any concerns about that? (Make sure the wording of the question reflects what an employer may legally ask in that state)

c. We contact all past employers. What do think they will say?

d. Will past employer tell us that e.g. your were tardy, did not perform well etc.

e. ALSO, use interview to ask questions about any unexplained employment gap

8. Check references and look for Unexplained Employment Gaps:

Verifying past employment is one of the single most important tools for an employer. It can be as important as doing criminal checks. Past job performance can also be an important predictor of future success. Some employers make a costly mistake by not checking past employment because they believe past employers may not give detailed information. However, even verification of dates of employment and job titles are critical because an employer must be concerned about unexplained gaps in the employment history. 

In addition, documenting the fact that an effort was made will demonstrate due diligence. Although there can be many reasons for a gap in employment, if an applicant cannot account for the past seven to ten years, that can be a red flag. 

It is also critical to know where a person has been because of the way criminal records are maintained in the United States. Contrary to popular belief, there is not a national criminal database available to most private employers. Searches must be conducted at each relevant courthouse, and there are over 10,000 courthouses in America. However, if an employer knows where an applicant has been as a result of past employment checks, it increases the accuracy of a criminal search, and decreases the possibility that an applicant has served time for a serious offense

After the AIR process, a firm is well advised to perform a criminal check. The good news is that with an effective AIR process, the possibility of locating a serious criminal record is greatly reduced. A firm can dramatically lower their cost by concentrating on the most recent counties where an applicant resides or spent a long period of time. Some experts contend that statistically, a person is more likely to commit a criminal offense in their county of residence. As a result, a check of the county of current residence gives an employer the most return for the expenditure.

An employer may wish to do a more in-depth search depending upon the type of position. An employer may want to review those positions with a greater risk for increased scrutiny, such as:

a. Supervisors

b. Workers handling cash or Personal Identifyable information (PII).

c. Remote or unsupervised workers

d. Workers that go into people’s homes

e. Workers with Access to assets

f. Vendors

g. Temporary workers

h. Contractors

Employers who hire vendors, temporary employees or contractors can insist that the provider of these services do screening. Many firms may have janitorial crews in the faculties at night, or vendors supplying vital parts or services. Employers are within their rights to insist that third party provider certify that they have performed checks as well. 

Implementing a Program throughout the company

The biggest challenge for an organization is to promote safe hiring and due diligence across an organization. The goal is to ensure that hiring managers across different divisions and sometimes across different physical locations follow procedures and pay attention to safe hiring.

The answer is to set up a S.A.F.E. Hiring System. It stands for:

S-Set-up a program, policies and procedures to be used throughout the organization, including the AIR process

A-Acclimate/train all persons with safe hiring responsibilities, especially hiring managers.

F– Facilitate/Implement the program.

E-Evaluate and audit the program by making sure that everyone responsible understands that their compensation and advancement is judged in part by the attention they pay to the hiring process. Organizations typically accomplish those things that are measured, audited and rewarded. The attached chart will help supervisors implement the program and for management to audit hiring practices.

By following the AIR process as part of an overall S.A.F.E. Hiring System, employers can demonstrate due diligence in the hiring process and protect themselves from bad hires in a cost-effective manner.

This article was prepared by background checking expert Lester Rosen.

Why Interviews Are Not an Effective Means to Tell if a Job Applicant is Lying on their Resume or Job Application

Even if Diogenes had found an honest person, there is a body of modern evidence that suggests it is difficult for anyone, from ancient philosophers to modern day employers, to use an interview to determine who is really who. Employers have a distinct challenge when it comes to spotting liars; industry statistics suggest that as many as 30% of all job applicants falsify information about their credentials, but trying to spot liars at interviews is, well, difficult, if not impossible.

There are lists of so-called “tell-tale signs” that a person is lying . For example, employers might observe if a person is avoiding eye contact, fidgeting, or hesitating before answering. Unfortunately, it can be a costly mistake for an interviewer to think lying can always be detected by such visual clues by relying upon one’s own instinct or intuition, since some of the so-called “visual clues” can simply be a sign of nervousness about the interview, or stress, and not an intent to lie. In fact, accomplished liars are more dangerous because they can disguise themselves as truthful and sincere. An experienced liar will often show no visible signs.

The problem is further complicated because many people feel they can detect who is lying and who is not. Studies have demonstrated that most people are poor judges of when they are being told the truth and when they are being deceived. Paul Ekman , a psychology professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California Medical School in San Francisco , is the author of thirteen books, including Telling Lies. Ekman has tested about 6,000 people who are professionals trained to spot liars, including police officers, lawyers, judges, psychiatrists, and agents of the FBI, the CIA and the Drug Enforcement Administration, to determine if they can tell if someone is lying. According to his research, most people are not very accurate in judging if a person is lying. The average accuracy in studies is rarely above 60%, while chance is 50%. Even among professional lie catchers, the ability to detect liars is not much better than 50%. In one study, customs agents who interviewed people at customs stations did not do any better than college students.

Some interviewees tell lies they have ingrained in their life story. They have created identities and legends of their own and, when they tell their stories, they are not fabricating on the spot. They put “it” on their resumes and talk about it and tell their friends about it. It becomes part of their personalities and personal histories because they have told it so often. It becomes second nature as they retell it again and again.

Conversely, even if a hiring manager does have an inkling a person is lying at an interview, a hiring manager may squash that instinct as just a feeling and not act on it.

That does not mean that some liars cannot be detected at interview. Some firms offer a one-day course specifically designed around interviewing of applicants. However, for most people, it’s a flip of the coin.

Employers, HR and Security professionals should remember that as valuable as instinct may be, it does not substitute for factual verification of an applicant’s credentials through employment screening  background checks and other safe hiring techniques.