Screening Job Applicants

Human Resources

Screening Applicants


The application form should be developed with caution, taking care not to ask for information that is not relevant to the position, or that is in conflict with employment laws. The application should contain a caveat that invalidates offers of employment if the information is found to be dishonest. It is legal to ask why the applicant left a job.


After initial interviews, the organization may wish to verify the information provided by the finalists for the position. This usually includes education, prior employment and personal references. The application package may include requests for that information and releases to be given to the providers of the information. Falsified applications and resumes are all too common. It is important to spend the time needed to verify the applicant’s training, skills and work habits. [See the attached Reference Checking Control Form to track verifications.]


Checking educational credentials.  The registrar’s office of educational institution may verify the degrees or credentials awarded and the year by telephone. If not, see the attached release form. If transcripts are required, they should come directly from the institution.


Checking references from former employers. Because of legal concerns, former managers and supervisors are usually reluctant or unwilling to share negative information about a former employee. Most companies instruct managers to refer callers to the Human Resources Department, which is likely only to confirm the dates of employment and whether the individual is eligible for rehire. On the other hand, former supervisors and managers are rarely reluctant to share positive information about an employee they truly regret losing. So, the unwillingness to talk about the employee at all may be a clue. [See attached script for telephone checking.]


Checking personal references. The applicant should be asked to name personal (sometimes called character) references. For convenience, a form may be used in lieu of a letter, but the form or letter should be returned directly to the Human Resources Department and not to the applicant.


Driving record check or criminal background check. Some organizations require one or both of these, depending on the position. The applicant must sign consent forms. Some states make request forms available online. [See attached examples.]


Drug testing. If the organization requires drug testing for employment, a consent form must be obtained. A process must be established that is consistent and fair. [See attached example of release form.]



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This work is supported under a five-year cooperative agreement # H235V060016 awarded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, and is administered by the Pass It On Center of the Georgia Department of Labor – Tools for Life.  However, the contents of this publication do not necessarily represent the policy or opinions of the Department of Education, or the Georgia Department of Labor, and you should not assume endorsements of this document by the Federal government or the Georgia Department of Labor.



Other Information

Title: Screening Job Applicants
Module: Human Resources
Author: Trish Redmon
Audience: Implementer
Sub Title:
Procedure: Checking credentials and references
Organization Source: Pass It On Center
Last Reviewed: 01-25-2009 8:49 AM