Utilizing a Due Diligence Checklist is Crucial when Hiring Engineers


Following a due diligence checklist when hiring is critical for any role within your organization, and it is often something that gets overlooked in companies that don’t have clear processes and procedures for hiring new employees. The results of overlooking this final step in your hiring process can be devastating. As you know, adding people to your team is the most important business decision you make, and hiring the wrong person is expensive – literally and figuratively.

In my career consulting with companies regarding their engineering recruiting needs, I’ve heard hiring horror stories that serve as cautionary tales. These bad experiences could have been avoided had these companies done their due diligence. So what do I mean by “Due Diligence”? I mean paying attention throughout your process, verifying information the candidate shares, checking references, verifying education, licenses, and certifications, reviewing a candidate’s online presence, and performing criminal background checks and drug screens that are aligned with your company’s policies.

Keep this due diligence checklist in mind as you move a candidate through your process:


#1: Pay Attention to What’s on the Resume

In the initial screening phase, pay attention that the dates on a candidate’s resume make sense and discuss the dates with them. Here you are covering any lapses in employment, discussing reasons they’ve left employers, etc. Make sure the timeline makes sense – if things feel off, probe further here. Be careful not to get fixated on a job or two where there is a lack of longevity. Make sure you are open to hearing their reasoning and remember, this is something you can likely confirm in the reference checking process.

You should also be looking at spelling, grammar, and formatting of the resume. These all boil down to a candidate’s attention to detail and the quality of work you can expect from them if you were to hire them. They should be part of your equation.


#2: Verify Education, Certifications and Licenses

You can verify many certifications and licenses with a quick online search. We do our Professional Engineering License verification online in minutes. There are also screening companies who will do all of the education, certification, and licensing verification for you. Some institutions take longer than others to respond, so be prepared for this to take up to a week or longer depending on the time of year (summer months can take longer due to administration offices hours of operation).

This is such an important part of the process because there are people out there that will falsify their background, and you do not want that to happen to you. We once had an instance where a director level candidate was all the way to the acceptance phase of the hiring process — and then he was revealed to have falsified his education – both his Bachelor’s AND his Master’s degree. He had led an impressive career to that point without this information coming to light. Regardless of the candidate’s career level, deception happens. Be vigilant in all hires! We shudder to think of the impact that that this person, who had been dishonest at that level for that long, could have had on our client’s business, especially in a leadership role. It would have been devastating.


#3: Check Social Media

How do candidates present themselves online? Be careful here. It’s okay to have a professional self and a personal self, so be cautious about judging anyone too harshly. That said, some major bullets can be dodged by taking a quick look. For example, we recently had a client who through doing their due diligence uncovered some racially charged communication and posts that were disturbing and in direct conflict with their company culture and policies. Once paired with the results of the reference checking, they decided not to move forward.


#4: Check References

Although reference checking can be tricky these days, viable candidates should provide you with a list of reference contacts that can speak to their work. Make sure you ask questions that align with the position you are considering the candidate for and ask questions that may overcome any concerns you have about the candidate. Also, if a reference is reluctant to share information, that often tells you something. Listen to the silence…sometimes it speaks volumes.


#5: Criminal Background and Drug Screening

I recommend performing a criminal background check and drug screen that are consistent with your hiring process and company policies. If you are a smaller company without defined processes, just make sure you are consistent and what you do for one candidate, you do for all.

Doing your due diligence may add a little more time to your process, but it is time well-spent. You will save so much time and money because it is so costly to have to start over from the beginning after making a bad hire that could have been prevented by doing your due diligence.

Just make sure you’re communicating with your candidate through the process so you don’t lose them. Remember, it’s competitive out there, so do your due diligence, but do it quickly.

Following a due diligence checklist, such as the one above, can help to ensure that you are hiring the best candidate possible for your organization.

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