By Bishop, Rob
Journal of Banking and Financial Services , Vol. 118, No. 4
Many roles expose staff to the opportunity to be dishonest and breaches of faith do occur, even if only in a minority of cases. Crime statistics released by the New Zealand Police indicate that in 2003, 1296 employees were prosecuted for theft as a servant/misappropriation charge. There were an additional 53,290 general theft prosecutions in 2003, with a good number of these being employee-related thefts.
This highlights the importance of ensuring that employees can be left to carry out their role responsibly without being tempted to abuse their position of trust. The best auditing and bureaucratic safety procedures in the world only go so far towards preventing a motivated abuser from creating an opportunity to commit theft or fraud. Ensuring that the workplace has a minimum of employees with such propensities is by far the best mechanism for protecting the workplace.
Risk management, as part of the recruitment process, is a strategic issue across many businesses. In the banking and finance industry, where staff at all levels are in a position of considerable trust, organisations that do not use robust recruitment methodologies are exposing themselves to considerable risk. Whether recruiting a teller, a business manager, an analyst or a branch network manager, it is essential that everything possible be done to minimise this risk and maximise success.
So just how do you provide for a rigorous recruitment process?
Pre-employment screening and the completion of background checks is a repetitive and lengthy process. There is no single check or element of the recruitment process that ensures integrity and minimises risk. There are a number of complementary elements that result in the creation of a comprehensive picture of a prospective employee: identity; employment history; skills; previous performance; previous credit issues; and criminal record.
As soon as a new role is identified, systems can be put in place to influence the expectations of prospective candidates and demonstrate the requirements of the employer. From the way the role is advertised to the presentation of the position by whoever is carrying out initial telephone screening, key criteria can be established to encourage a certain kind of candidate to apply for the position.
Once a candidate has made an initial application it is essential that whoever carries out the telephone interview gives a very clear indication of what will be involved in the application process and what checks and assessments will be made prior to offers being given. Many higher risk candidates will either talk about their past (in which case the interviewer can make an informed decision or probe further for more information) or the candidate will quietly withdraw themselves from the application process at this stage.
If the applicant has been successful in progressing past an initial telephone screen they may be invited to a face-to-face interview. Discussions with applicants at this stage should explore how their previous work history and life experience has helped them to develop the qualities, skills and aptitudes required for this position. Most consultancies carry out behavioural competency-based interviews that allow the consultant to form an accurate picture of how the individual has reacted to various challenges and situations in the past.
These questions hinge on the principle that examples of previous behaviour and the demonstration of competencies is a strong predictor of what an employer can expect of the individual. …