We all know that the retirement of the baby-boom generation is leaving the construction industry in a lurch. As experienced employees leave the business, construction firms must scramble to recruit qualified replacements. But in addition to a resume and interview, how do you know your candidate's qualifications are the real deal?

Start with a background check, advises Stephen Spain, COO, Industry People Group, a Des Moines, Iowa-based online recruitment and screening agency for the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing fields. Begin with verifying the candidate's driving record, social security number, and criminal history. There are services and search engines that can help you screen potential employees, such as sex-offender registries, criminal databases, and information banks to verify such things as drivers' licenses and employment and educational histories.

But the process shouldn't end there. To be even more thorough, once a candidate passes the initial screening, you'll want to conduct a skills test as part of the interview process. For example, starting next month, Industry People Group's Web site, MEPatwork.com, will offer online testing. If you want to keep the interview in-house, you can ask your experienced employees to come up with scenarios for problem solving. Either way, don't be afraid to ask specific, job-related questions. Remember, you shouldn't believe everything you read on a resume.