How to Investigate a Candidate’s Employment History

“Why did you leave your last job, and what have you been doing since then?”

This is the first question you need answered as you verify a candidate’s employment history. You may need to probe more deeply into their professional past as well, but this is where you “hit start” in the process.

Get the Response You Need

This is a key interview question, but be careful not to let it seem accusatory. Sometimes even the most competent candidates find themselves unemployed, through no fault of their own. It’s important to pursue the issue in a neutral, diplomatic fashion.

  • Try to get specific, factual answers. You can verify them later. Candidates with a spotty employment history should, at the very least, be able to account for extended periods of unemployment and demonstrate whether they used that time productivity. For example, they may have formed their own business, gone back to school, or dedicated their time to volunteering in their community.
  • Make sure you’re satisfied. If a candidates responds by simply saying, “I left to move on,” this is superficial. Get a deeper explanation. Start by asking, “Why?” If they don’t know, this is an immediate red flag. At best, the individual just wants to aimlessly fill their time while making a few dollars. At worst, they have no concept at all of integrity or loyalty. On the other hand, if they say they left a job for better advancement opportunities or to fully utilize their skills, you may have a winner on your hands.

Verify Your Information

Ask the candidate to provide contact information for their previous employers. This should include specific job titles, dates of employment, and company and supervisor names, phone numbers, and mailing and email addresses. Contact each person listed. You can speak directly to the candidate’s former supervisor or to the company’s HR department.

Find out if the candidate has one or more letters of recommendation from previous employers. Make sure they are on professional company letterhead, with contact information and an original signature.

The hiring experts at Talent Bridge can provide you with the tools, resources and market intelligence you need to not only find the best talent, but ensure that your sourcing and hiring processes are watertight. Read our related posts or contact us today for more information.