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TRUST-BUT-VERIFY – TriStarr’s Mantra When Screening Candidates!!

Are you comparing “Apples to Apples” when looking at the costs of recruiting and screening candidates?  As a full service professional staffing provider we’ve incorporated many steps into our recruiting process that help us present the best candidates most quickly.  These steps cost money – and what I’ve learned is that most of our clients (and competitors for that matter) skip these steps.

Here are the steps we take to insure that we’ve done all we can to present the best, most highly qualified candidates to our clients.

Our screening process has four distinct areas of focus:

  • Hard Skill Assessments
  • Personality / Behavioral Assessments
  • Personal interview by a member of the TriStarr staff
  • Verification of information provided on the application and/or resume

Hard Skill Assessments

Candidates self-report their skills all the time.  “I’m an ‘expert’ in Excel!”, or “I have excellent writing skills!”  While we are a trusting group at TriStarr – we follow the tenet “Trust but Verify”.  If a candidate says they have a skill – we test. Plain and simple.

NOTE:  All of the assessments we utilize are validated and proven reliable.  I’m not sure about you – but I’m not going to use any assessment that’s not validated and end up being sued!  If you’re making up your own test – you’ve opened yourself up to a losing lawsuit!

Personality / Behavioral Assessments

All TriStarr candidates complete a Personality and Cognitive Abilities Assessment (again validated – see above).  We want to make sure that the candidates we present have the personality that best matches the position we’re presenting them for.

  • Candidates tell us all the time that they’re detailed, or love people, or are team players.   Well – we give them a test that tells us if they are – or if they’re blowing smoke to make it look like they are.

Again – Trust but Verify!!


Every candidate we present has been interviewed.  No exceptions.  We’ve developed Competency Based Behavioral Interviewing scenarios for various candidates, and all of our staff has been thoroughly trained in this interviewing method.

There is a huge difference in the information you get when you ask a question appropriately:

Our competition:  “What is your greatest strength?”

TriStarr:  “Can you give me a specific example of how you dealt with an irate customer?”

In these two examples – one (ours) gets to the real meat of the issue (if we were going to be considering this candidate for a position with a client as a CSR).  The other – well, it gets us a “fluffy” answer the candidate probably got from a website the night prior to the interview.

Interviewing is a skill – a hard one to master – we have.

Background Verification

Finally, we verify by independent means, the information that the candidate has provided.  TriStarr combines a standard battery of background checks with the individual needs of specific clients to insure that we’ve done all we can to present qualified candidates.  Based on the needs of our clients we can develop a custom package of services including but not limited to:

Verification of employment – can be written or developed through actual personal contact with representatives of the applicant’s former employers.  Companies have established policies as to what information may and may not be disclosed and who is authorized within the company to provide that information.  Quality employment references are becoming harder and harder to obtain.  We’re good at this.

Website searches – Information found on the internet is considered to be freely accessible by anyone, and therefore, at this time, there are very limited legal restrictions on using social media to obtain personal information about an applicant.  Also, newspaper articles, lists of sex abusers, Megan’s list are all available.  However, just because it is on the internet, doesn’t make it true or legally defensible in court. EXTREME CAUTION must be used with this information.

Pennsylvania Access to Criminal History (PATCH) – performed by the Pennsylvania State Police, checks statewide for convictions of misdemeanors and felonies. Procedure was established by Act 34 of Pennsylvania State law.

Child Abuse Clearance – submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare.  A separate form must be completed by the applicant, listing all places of residence since birth, and anyone who may have resided with them during that time. Procedure was established by Act 151 of Pennsylvania State law.

Finger printing/FBI Check – applicant must follow the procedure established by PA State Law Act 114 to obtain a Federal Criminal history record.  The results are returned to the applicant within 4-8 weeks.  Provisions can be made for a “conditional hire”.  This is a search for Federal convictions only.

Consumer Credit Report – can be accessed through the three nationwide credit reporting agencies – TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian.  Once again, you must have written permission to access the report, it must be directly related to the position for which the applicant is being considered, and if adverse action is taken as a result of the information obtained on the report, the applicant must be notified in writing, and advised of their rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Department of Motor Vehicles Record Check – obtained through the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles.  A separate written information and release form must be completed and submitted to PennDot.  Again, the information requested must be related to performance of the job duties.

Education Verification – each institution of higher education has a unique process for providing verification of degrees awarded.  Some make it available on their website, others are much more complicated.

Social Security Number Trace – this provides the requestor with a list of all companies that have reported wages to a Social Security number.  This could be used to find “unreported” jobs, or to verify places of residence.

Workers’ Compensation Report – provides documentation of workers’ compensation claims that have been filed, their severity and duration.

Drug screening – there are three methods being used for drug and alcohol screening – urine, blood, and hair.  The efficacy of each is different and the results only indicate the applicant’s past behavior, which does not always correlate to future behavior.

Physical Examination – The examining physician must have a complete job description including physical requirements to perform the job – lifting, bending, walking for extended periods, etc.  This may also include a test for exposure to tuberculosis.

Record of Immunization – If not available from the family physician or a person’s own records, various tests can be done to determine levels of resistance to major diseases.

CAUTION: If you deny employment to an applicant due to information you obtained from any of the above background checks, you must provide them with a copy of the report, a letter notifying them of your decision and advise them of their rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.  They must also be given an opportunity to dispute or correct information on the report.

TriStarr Staffing has developed these resources and our legal counsel has assured us that our policies and procedures adhere to all the local, state and Federal requirements and restrictions.  The methodology of selecting candidates for interviewing, and ultimately for hire, is an area that is increasingly closely monitored by multiple government agencies.  TriStarr is vigilant to stay compliant with these regulations.

The theme to this post…  Trust but Verify!!

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