How to Select the Perfect Job Candidate

In today’s economy, where jobs are still scarce and the competition for open positions is fierce, how do you know you have selected the perfect candidate for an executive position? While HR is at the forefront of the process, security also plays a role, as the candidate must pass background checks, fingerprinting and drug testing. But what else should your company know?

Many are familiar with the story of the Yahoo CEO who took on his role in early 2012, only to be dismissed when stories arose that he padded his resume with an embellished college degree. Unfortunately, no industry is immune to the possibility of these inflated resumes, even at the C-Suite level.

Hiring at the executive level needs to be thorough and precise. Often, these individuals become the face and primary representation of your company. As a voice for the company, executives often appear in print, television and online media outlets. You want your company to carry a positive brand image, and this can be quickly damaged with a bad hire; therefore, it is imperative that you know more about your candidates than what they give you on a resume or in an interview.

Many executive screening packages — often keyed by the security department — tend to only look at qualifications, work history, education and public records. To help develop the “big picture,” many companies are looking to add media screening when hiring at the executive level.

Media screening is a comprehensive search through various databases to access thousands of news sources including newspapers, trade publications, professional journals, articles, transcripts and others. The results can include award nominations and other achievements by the applicant, and community and industry association involvement, along with business and job disputes, criminal activity or other potentially negative information.


Is Media Screening the Same as Social Media Screening?

The simple answer is no — media screening practices go beyond what the potential employee shares with you during the interview, but it does not cross the line into the “personal” aspect of social media checks.

Media screening pulls back all results from published items and periodicals that include the individual’s name and other defined criteria. This part of the screening process can help reveal the kind of person you are hiring beyond the office setting. Brand reputation protection usually falls under the purview of security; thus, it is important to keep in mind that a new executive hire has the potential to help or harm your brand.

Media searches can complement background screening efforts by providing information about incidents or investigations that may not be reflected in official records. Has the individual been unfavorably portrayed in the news? Are they involved with an organization that has a conflict of interest with your company?

Media screenings also highlight the positives about an individual that might not come through in the interview process. Are they a volunteer? Have they taken part in speaking engagements? Are they a thought-leader in the industry on a specific topic?

Social media screening is a controversial topic; however, some companies still use this method as part of the total vetting process. Social networks provide employers with more information about job candidates than most hiring managers wish to take on. Sorting through the true and false of a personal social media profile can become a job task all on its own — and there is always the possibility of same names and false identities. The same issues apply to a basic Google search.

Employers need to weigh the information that has been “published” vs. what has been “posted.”


Is Media Screening Reliable?

Broadening your screening for executives is essential to making a good hiring decision. Media screening is just one part of the bigger picture, including litigation screening, corporate affiliation searches, bankruptcy records and even tax liens.

Many companies do not know they have these additional screening features available; however, these extra searches could be a brand differentiator. Remember, your organization is hiring a person, not just a skill set. A professional background screening vendor has access to periodical search engines and databases that can define, refine and conduct your media screening efforts. Taking this extra step provides due diligence for the organization and may help avoid costly brand damage.


Bill Tate is President of HR Plus (, which offers solutions for employment and background screening needs.