5 Questions to Consider Asking During Your Next Job Interview

When job candidates get the exciting news that they have landed an interview, they often focus on impressing their potential employer with the right answers to interview questions and passing standard pre-employment background screenings. However, prior to going to an interview, job seekers should consider vetting prospective employers with questions of their own.

Doing research about an employer prior to and asking the right questions during an interview can help candidates make informed decisions about how a company or position could affect their lifestyles and well-being. In preparation for your next interview, considering bringing up some of the following topics.

  1. What are the salary and benefits? These items can be deal-breakers if you require a certain pay scale or items like health insurance and the company cannot meet your needs.
  2. What is the previous person in the desired position currently doing? An employer’s answer to this question could indicate positive or negative aspects about the company, such as room for growth or high turnover rate.
  3. How will your job performance be assessed? If you know what your job expectations are and how they will be evaluated before you even start, you are less likely to be caught off guard during your first review.
  4. What is the company’s educational mentality? Can you advance and evolve? Asking these question will help you have a better understanding of company culture and know if it is in line with your personal growth strategy.
  5. Does the employer have any concerns about you or your ability to fulfil the desire position? Employers have a sense of whether or not a candidate will fit a job role early on, and they are more than willing to tell you if they have any hesitation with your ability to meet specific requirements, especially if you ask.

The current economy puts enormous pressure on job seekers to take what they can get without considering that their personal needs are met and long-term career goals can be achieved. Asking critical questions during an interview makes you look interested and informed, and the answers an employer gives provide a better idea of what work environment you will be entering if you procure the job.

Should Individuals with Criminal Records Have Equal Consideration in the Hiring Process?

In any sector, the majority of jobs require background checks for a variety of reasons, but one justification that remains paramount is to enhance workplace safety by weeding out job applicants with untrustworthy or violent behavior. However, many community members and politicians are asking themselves if prohibiting individuals with felonious backgrounds from entering the traditional workforce is really helping anyone.

Felons, particularly those who have been incarcerated for their crimes, have an incredibly difficult time reentering society after facing their charges and/or jail time. Post-prison life offers a myriad of obstacles, and for many, obtaining employment feels impossible. Ex-cons may even have acquired advanced degrees during (or after) serving their sentences, but that doesn’t eliminate a criminal record from becoming an automatic dismissal from a job applicant pool. Furthermore, ex-cons often comprise disadvantaged and low-income demographics, populations that have higher unemployment rates.

US legislators have instituted laws like “Ban the Box” (in several cities and states) and Prop 47 (which passed in California in 2014) to try and assist individuals with criminal records in their job searches. Ban the Box prohibits employers from running initial criminal background checks in the primary stages of the application process, allowing offenders to explain the circumstances surrounding their convictions to potential employers. Prop 47 reduces some felony charges to misdemeanors, so the charges may not apply to some job application questions, or they may not show up in background screenings that only search for felonies.

The idea behind the aforementioned legislation is not to create a workplace where individuals without criminal records are at risk, but to create a job market that allows applicants with criminal records to rehabilitate their lives and failing demographic statistics. Some even argue that felons do not pose a greater risk than any other individual who might have the same inclination toward illegal behavior, but simply hasn’t been caught yet. Antagonists Prop 47 argue that going as far as reclassifying certain drug and property offenses as misdemeanors instead of felonies discredits the seriousness of criminal behavior.

Ban the Box allows employers to run background checks at later stages of the hiring process, where they can justify their need for excluding individuals with particular offenses from the applicant pool, rather than using such screenings as an auto-elimination tool. While a criminal record cannot allow an employer to enter the mind of a job applicant or know all of his/her intentions, it can speak to certain types of behavior, especially if the individual has committed a violent crime or will be working with sensitive information/demographics (like children, the disabled, and the elderly).

Changes in employment screening and criminal record legislation raise awareness about very real problems. In the right situation, employment could alter a social system or struggling demographic in a positive way. The ability to provide for oneself and contribute to society could instill a sense of self-worth and purpose in an employee who might otherwise be tempted to turn back to crime without an alternative. Employers should consider the character of individuals in conjunction with the safety and integrity of their workplaces, making informed decisions with the information they acquire, not just automatic ones.

Education Verifications Provide Better Picture of Job Candidates’ Character

With an increase in lying on resumes in the job market, employers have more to worry about than making sure they have employees with solid qualifications: they have to ensure that the attributes job candidates claim to have exist at all, a process which requires more investigation than the routine criminal background check. There isn’t an automatic database for dishonest individuals, but manual education verifications can help separate the liars from the rest of the applicant pool.

Education verifications involve the employer or third-party verification firm calling the registrar’s office at the university of record and confirming details such as:

  • Dates of attendance
  • Area of studies
  • Degree attained

For a small fee, companies like Victig can perform these verifications, which are customizable. Some employers need only acquire basic information, while others may need detailed educational history in order to evaluate a potential employee. Using a third-party firm allows employers to focus on their day-to-day business needs while ensuring that they have thorough employment screening results. Victig can deliver this information in as little as 24-72 hours.

Furthermore, education verifications give employers a more personal look at who they might be hiring. Comparing a job candidate’s resume next to the results of an education verification demonstrates how an individual conveys critical information about his or her background. How someone conveys information gives insight into a person’s character and how he or she might fit into a specific work environment.

While education verification wasn’t created for the sole purpose of catching resume inaccuracies, it does address the specific (and prevalent) problem of dishonesty on job application materials. Employees who can stand up to a detailed background screening will be more likely to exhibit integrity in their job functions, and employers who have a more complete picture of who they are hiring will have peace of mind during the hiring process.

Millennium/Medicare Lawsuit Highlights Drug-testing Problems

A recent drug-testing settlement negotiation between Medicare and Millennium Health LLC, the largest drug-testing lab in the United States, has caused a host of problems beyond those incurred by Millennium, the defendant in the suit. Medicare alleged that, after a three-year investigation, Millennium billed the federal government for non-essential tests, primarily for Medicare clients undergoing pain management treatment. This unnecessary testing may have contributed to the 2,000% increase in Medicare spending on drug testing over the last six years. Millennium could face paying up to $250 million in damages.

Because of the astronomical increase in federal spending for Medicare clients undergoing pain management treatment, Medicare agencies, health care providers, and drug testing laboratories are scrambling to find a solution that allows patients to get the care they need without allowing labs to take advantage of federal spending.

Drug-testing labs get paid by Medicare for each substance they test. Millennium has been accused of running unnecessary tests to increase their payout and performing unwarranted high-tech testing that is consequently more costly. Labs can screen for substances ordered by the physician, and they can perform further high-tech tests to confirm any abnormal results. Medicare claims that Millennium not only ordered an exorbitant amount of irrelevant tests per substance (i.e. testing senior citizens for party drugs like MDMA), but that they ran high-tech confirmation tests on normal samples that should not have been subjected to further lab testing. Medicare spending for simple tests has not gone up in recent years nearly as much as the exponential increase in high-tech testing.

Since the settlement negotiation between Medicare and Millennium is still in process, solving and preventing recurrence is also up in the air. Medicare has proposed billing caps on certain types of testing. These caps would help taxpayers, but cut into laboratory income. Providers and labs who have acquired expensive equipment in order to perform the high-tech testing would see a decrease in payment as well, in some cases as much as losing around 75% per test. Different parties have considered changing the payment structure to bundling the cost of testing instead of paying per tested substance.

Lab staff are concerned that changes in billing and high-tech testing would limit growth, as Medicare is one of their largest sources of revenue. Health care providers are concerned that their patient care may suffer due to a decrease in available tests. Pain management patients need to be tested for drug abuse, noncompliance (which can indicate they are selling their medications), addiction, and/or overdose, and some of the high-tech testing allows more quantitative analysis that helps providers make informed treatment decisions.

Millennium is working with Medicare to resolve the consequences of their infractions. Hopefully their resolution will evoke a mutually beneficial policy change that will help economic growth and patient care without exhausting federal spending.