Screening candidates is not a simple task, not only can asking the right questions be a potential minefield, it is also a time consuming process to get right, which perhaps goes some way to explaining why there are so many agencies offering screening services.
It can be challenging to know what questions you can and cannot ask, when you can ask them and how far you can go towards ensuring you get the best people on board. Getting the job advert right can help attract the right candidates and often a well drafted and precise person specification can act as a guide during the interview process.
Once you have selected your chosen candidate consideration should be given as to whether a third party should be engaged to carry out detailed background checks. Criminal records checks should be limited and carried out only where strictly necessary – for example where the person will be working with children.
In general candidate screening should be regarded as a stage by stage process, with the most intrusive questions only being asked once the individual is to be offered the role. Ask questions too early and you will fall foul of data protection legislation and potentially be accused of discriminatory interview techniques. So, for example, whilst it may be appropriate for some roles during the application process to request some health information, questions of such an intrusive nature should be asked as late in the process as practicable. For example once an offer has been made you could consider whether any particular attributes are required by the role. If excellent eyesight is required, should an offer be subject to passing an eye test?
The same applies to visa or right to work screening. Whilst it may be a requirement of the role that the person has the right to work in the UK once they take up the post, not having the right to work in the UK should not preclude someone from making an application. Whether they can obtain the right to work can be considered at the appropriate point of the application process.
It may also be worth checking the candidate’s social media accounts (if accessible). However, caution is advised. If you discover, for example, that your prime candidate has previously issued claims for discrimination against a former employer and decide not to employ them on that basis you could, yourself, fall foul of discrimination laws.