Workers’ compensation claims can occur in any workplace. While employers understand that solid safety protocol can reduce the incidence of these claims, many don’t realize that steps taken during the hiring process can also have some impact on managing this liability. Not taking the time to thoroughly interview applicants to determine if they are a good fit for the job and the company can result in hiring workers who might create problems later on, like filing too many workers’ compensation claims.
Although federal and state laws prohibit certain questions being asked during the interview process, there are techniques you can use that will help you decide if the applicant might be the type to file problem claims. Begin by reviewing the applicant’s resume prior to the interview. Pay careful attention to gaps in employment history. During the interview, ask the applicant to explain the reasons for these gaps. Also ask the applicant about his or her attendance record during previous jobs.
Follow up with open-ended questions to see what the applicant would do in certain situations, such as resolving conflicts with managers, subordinates or co-workers. Quiz the applicant as to what he or she perceives to be the procedures necessary to effectively perform the essential functions of the applied-for job in your company.
Inform the applicant that all new hires go through a fitness-for-duty physical, which includes questions about medical history. Watch for any signs of discomfort like a change in facial expression or body movement.
Administer a skill and/or personality test to assess competency and work ethic. Whatever screening tools you use, establish reasonable criteria and apply them uniformly for all applicants.
Obtain written consent from the applicant to conduct a complete background check. As part of this:
· Verify past employment history and follow up with references.
· Conduct a criminal background check. Use a public records service to uncover any criminal convictions.
· Check on past job-related injuries, workers’ compensation claims, substance abuse and safety records.
· Contact the schools and universities listed on the candidate’s job application or resume to verify education and certifications. If the applicant listed having a professional license, call the issuing organization to verify.
· For candidates whose job duties would include driving a motor vehicle, compare the results of the applicant’s official motor vehicle report with the answers provided on the job application.
If you do extend a job offer, make it conditional, contingent upon the candidate’s ability to perform the functions of the job. You can withdraw a job offer, if in the opinion of a licensed medical doctor, the prospective employee poses a direct threat to their own, or others’, health and safety. However, in determining the suitability of an offered job, make sure you make all reasonable accommodations necessary for those candidates subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Thorough job interviews not only help you to hire the right person for the job…they help you hire the right people for your company.