What is employee vetting: How to run the process successfully

Our work takes up an estimated third of our life. That being the case, the people we bring to our teams profoundly impact business effectiveness, company culture, and daily lives.

To that end, employee vetting is a necessity for a work-life environment that’s both fulfilling and productive. By gathering comprehensive information about a potential new hire, vetting candidates doesn’t just find the best fit for the role; it’s how companies in countless fields find the best fit for their team.

Whether hiring a new graphic designer who can create engaging designs or staffing your start-up with talent that fits the company culture you’re fostering—vetting processes are used across industries to make well-informed hiring decisions.

To find the best fit for your next role, let’s dive into what employee vetting is and how to run a vetting process successfully.

What is an employee vetting process?

Employee vetting is a process employers employ to find the best match for open positions. Vetting saves talent acquisition teams (and companies as a whole) time and money by hiring the right candidates for the job, ensuring that job duties are carried out effectively and decreasing employee turnover.

If you hire a candidate who is overqualified for a position (or offer a salary that isn’t competitive), they will often leave quickly for a position better suited to their talents. Likewise, if you hire an underqualified candidate or a poor culture fit, direct reports or coworkers may leave due to mismanagement, inefficiency, or negative changes in their work culture.

Because it is a process, there are multiple steps an employee vetting program can take. Generally, the candidate vetting process follows a rubric along these lines:

  • The talent acquisition specialist gathers pertinent information about a potential new employee, such as work history and role-related skills
  • Recruiter staff assesses that information through qualifying standards
  • The hiring manager determines if the candidate is a good fit for the role and their team based on the collected information

This general rubric might recur throughout subsequent levels of applicant screening procedures; it all depends on how thoroughly a talent acquisition team uses the vetting process. For that reason, the duration of the vetting process may vary based on the position, the industry, or the employer.

The employee vetting process can take days or months; it all depends on the due diligence undertaken by the recruiting team. At the very least, employee vetting can begin after a prospective new hire submits actionable information to a talent acquisition specialist.

General information for employee vetting

The employee vetting process depends on a candidate’s information submitted through the application process. Effective vetting will require core documents from job candidates to conduct the process.

Job application documents might include but are not limited to:

  • A resume or CV: Candidates’ resumes contain comprehensive information about the applicant’s work history, background, certifications, and education
  • A cover letter: Cover letters provide a short format where applicants can persuasively advocate for themselves
  • References: An applicant’s references are associates who can attest to their character and credentials
  • A portfolio: Portfolios compile an applicant’s past work or projects that demonstrate their fitness for the position

With the information on hand, talent acquisition teams can make an informed assessment of the applicant’s potential based on their experience, character, and qualifications.

As the vetting process advances, applicants undergo an increasingly focused review of their qualifications tailored more specifically to their job functions and company culture. This process helps acquisition teams find talent that will benefit their company as a whole and who are prepared to stick around for the long haul. By properly assessing each candidate, you avoid spending even more time and money re-filling a position you recently hired for—or filling new positions to account for employees who left as a reaction to issues with your new hire.

How to run a vetting process effectively

The vetting process is as effective as the talent acquisition team allows—and results may vary.

Finding the best fit possible for a given position depends on how scrutinizing a talent acquisition specialist is with the vetting process. For a clear example of what an effective vetting process might look like, consider these six key steps:

1. Initial screening of applicant materials
The initial screening of applicant materials is extremely important. The more comprehensive the materials, the better-equipped talent acquisition teams will be to assess the candidates’ qualifications — unqualified candidates can be weeded out from the start.

Employee vetting programs should include as much as possible: a resume, a cover letter, references, and a portfolio when needed.

2. Filter top candidates with virtual and in-person interviews
Initial screening materials are not always enough to assess an employee’s fit for a company role. There are intangibles best determined by interviews with the applicant, whether through video interviews, in-person interviews, or phone screening.

The interview process allows hiring managers to gain a more personable, in-depth assessment of the candidate and present the opportunity for targeted questions that reveal more about their fitness for the role. Additionally, interviews help companies determine whether a candidate fits the company culture.

Because companies with a positive culture have up to a 72 percent higher employee engagement rate, vetting for fit is crucial—because happy employees work more effectively and efficiently.

3. Leverage software to run background checks
Initial application materials and subsequent interviews may not include everything hiring managers need to know. Background checks can provide additional fact-checking context that talent acquisition teams need to make informed hiring decisions.

Running background checks, like criminal background checks, can collect useful information that may not be collected in the above steps.

Talent acquisition specialists can use background check software to glean information about an applicant’s:

  • Credit
  • Criminal history
  • Identity verification
  • Eligible work status
  • Social media history

4. Contact applicant references
Talent acquisition teams should use every opportunity they can to conduct effective vetting. It’s best to follow up with an applicant’s submitted references. By contacting references, specialists can make crucial verifications on a candidate’s:

  • Work history
  • Experience level
  • Character

5. Evaluate qualification with additional assessments
Beyond the initial screenings, interviews, background checks, and reference follow-ups, specialists still have opportunities to collect helpful information for additional context to a candidate’s fitness.

Many companies will include skills tests, such as writing tests for marketing roles, in their vetting process. The extent to which talent acquisition teams use additional assessments of a potential candidate varies. However, as a general rule, the more information available in the vetting process, the better.

6. Select the best candidate and send the job offer
The final step is when the extensiveness of an effective vetting process pays off: the more comprehensive the vetting process, the better-equipped talent acquisition teams are to make comparisons amongst the final qualified candidates.

An effective vetting process helps the ideal candidate stand out and provides a talent acquisition specialist with the basis for making a fair offer. When the candidate and offer are determined, all that remains in the vetting process is informing the candidate.

Best candidate vetting tips and practices

An evaluation process like the one outlined above is a key component of an effective employee vetting program. However, there are additional actions talent acquisition teams can take to ensure that their vetting is at its best ability. Practices to consider for optimizing the vetting process include:

  • Use accurate and comprehensive job descriptions
  • Use software to speed up the process
  • Maintain consistency in vetting measures between applicants
  • Understand privacy issues and legal guidelines

Let’s explore each below.

Use accurate and comprehensive job descriptions

To ensure that you generate a relevant applicant pool from the start, be clear with your job descriptions and price them accurately.

The more comprehensive your listing, the less time the hiring manager needs to spend vetting potential candidates who fail to meet basic qualifications. Additionally, pricing jobs based on skills, location, and other important factors help ensure that you attract candidates who will provide value to your company. In effect, a sharp job description and strategically-priced salaries are the first steps of the vetting process.

Use software to speed up the process

Extensive vetting produces the best results, but it prolongs the process. To speed up the process, software like Payscale’s job description management tools, compensation planning tools, and beyond streamline the vetting at every stage.

Additionally, software can help talent acquisition specialists use data to drive confident hiring decisions. Payscale provides continually refreshed, validated data that comes directly from trusted sources, employers, and employees to help companies make informed pay decisions based on salary profiles, compensation surveys, API, and beyond. This access to data is an organization’s secret weapon to solve compensation challenges and price new job postings strategically.

For example, if a company hires for a mid-level position using a job description that neglects to include information about all relevant skills or company culture, they may only receive applicants that are missing necessary certifications or are a poor culture fit. This mistake means the company will need to re-write their description once they notice the gaps in their candidates’ resumes, extending the time a position is left unfilled and using valuable resources to re-create their posting.

Additionally, if the company then posts an accurate job description but does not price the posting to reflect the skills required for the position, they may find that they do not receive enough applicants to fill the position well. If they did not set aside enough money in their budget to pay a competitive salary, they may have to hire a candidate that isn’t the right fit for the job or the company. Similarly, they may hire a candidate who leaves quickly for a position that pays a competitive salary, meaning more resources will need to be used to again hire (and train!) for that same position.

By building your vetting process on a foundation of solid market data, you can shorten the time from sourcing to hire and ensure you’re hiring and compensating accurately to retain the hire you put so much effort into vetting.

From crunching data to helping candidate comparisons at the final stage, vetting software gives talent acquisition teams who want to find the best fit fast (and keep them) a huge leg up.

Maintain consistency in vetting measures between applicants

The larger the pool, the better the chance talent acquisition specialists have to find the optimal fit for the vacant position. Still, a vetting process only works when applied to every candidate.

Consistently vetting every candidate ensures that each candidate is properly assessed for the role’s qualifications and prevents the right fit from slipping through the cracks or the wrong one from slipping through the process.

Understand privacy issues and legal guidelines

Vetting requires detailed information from the applicants. However, vetting should never come at the expense of an applicant’s privacy. When conducting a vetting program, talent acquisition specialists should stay within their legal purview and respect the applicant’s privacy, or else they put their credibility at risk.

The importance of vetting in the hiring process

Companies won’t find the right fit for a position if their talent acquisition teams don’t know how to vet their candidates properly. It’s just one of many key HR components that create a better work-life experience for all.

For one, vetting procedures help talent acquisition teams confidently know they’ve found the right fit, not just for the role but the work culture as well.

Alternatively, vetting improperly (or not vetting at all) often affects your company’s bottom line. Suboptimal employees often fail to make the most of a position; worse yet, offboarding poorly picked employees will waste time and money. Plus, hiring a poor culture fit often decreases your overall employee retention, as existing employees may quit if you hire the wrong employee or leader for their team. Compensation is the biggest line item for a company, and, as such, turnover is one of the most costly consequences of ineffective hiring.

An effective employee vetting process is the cornerstone of the structure of a happy, healthy, and productive company.