Have you ever played Jenga? This popular Hasbro game is conceptually very simple. It contains fifty-four rectangular wooden blocks. These blocks are arranged on top of one another, three blocks at a time, with each layer of three laid perpendicular to the layer below it. After the initial eighteen-layer tower has been built, players take turns removing one block at a time from the lower part of the “tower” and carefully place it at the top. They keep building the tower until it eventually wobbles and falls.
While the concept of the game is easy, actual gameplay requires quite a bit of manual dexterity, precision, and strategy. One essential technique to be successful in Jenga is to lightly tap or test a block before removal and final placement on top of the tower. This testing is important because by touching it, the player can get a better feel for the block they are considering. Sometimes the tapping is met with no resistance or disturbance, indicating that the block is ready and safe to place atop the structure. Other times, however, this tapping is met with considerable resistance, and it’s easy to feel that this is a block better left alone. The player who can skillfully employ the tapping technique and can carefully choose the right blocks with which to build the tower will ultimately win. It is the hasty player who chooses the wrong block and will send the entire structure toppling down.
When a company brings on new hires based on nothing but a gut reaction—without administering pre-employment screenings—the company is essentially playing Jenga without the “tapping” technique. Pre-employment screenings, while they may take a little initial investment and a little extra time, will ultimately pay dividends toward the integrity and stability of the entire organization. By prodding a probing just a little bit extra before finally committing to a candidate, a company can save itself from headaches, wasted time, wasted money, and even negligent hiring lawsuits.
No one likes to lose—not in Jenga and especially not in business. But a way to lose quickly in both business and Jenga is to ignore the “tapping” method and haphazardly grab whatever selection looks good at the time without careful evaluation. Businesses should utilize pre-employment screenings to ensure the future success and stability of their enterprise. If you’re still not completely sold, go play Jenga by pulling blocks at random and see for yourself. Just be prepared for a mess of fallen blocks on your table and don’t say you weren’t forewarned.