Vetting is the process of performing a background check on someone before offering them employment, conferring an award, etc. A prospective person or project may be vetted before making a hiring decision. In addition, in intelligence gathering, assets are vetted to determine their usefulness.
For employment it is pretty simple. The applicant fills out a form and the human resource staff checks school records and police filings to confirm your statement is correct. Addresses can be confirmed and references can be contacted to build an evaluation that skills and potential equal to the requirement for employment. If an employee is not fully vetted, removal or disqualification can be a long drawn out and sometimes-expensive process.
More recently the word ‘vetting’ has been repeated to the examination of people wanted to enter our borders. Unlike our parents or grandparents, seeking to participate in the land of opportunity, intense scrutiny is being asked to immigrants or refugees from other parts of the planet. Our racism sexism, nationalism, classism, homophobia, religious discrimination, neurodiversity and linguistic discrimination create our prejudices that are not written on any form.
When else do we use vetting?
Imagine if you will, a large room full of strangers. It may be a work convention or a religious gathering or a high school reunion. To show your civility, you smile and then migrate to the open bar. A person gets your attention for whatever reason and you start introducing yourself.
Where do you work? Where did you go to school? What is your favorite football team?
All pretty safe questions without any fear of intimidation or retribution. Still this person could become your next boss or possible mother to your children or investor to your kick-starter ideas, so the questions go deeper.
Are you married? Do you have kids? Where do you live? What kind of music do you like? Who did you vote for?
Do you see you are vetting? Examining the other person on their answers to pointed questions and filtering them through your own prejudices. Add to your questions the visual of what the other person is wearing and their body language and if they are with someone else, how that person reacts.
In the end, what exactly did we accomplish? Without more time and experiences with this person all we have is their word. There is no fact-checking here.
Maybe it was charisma or just the tone of a voice that makes people come together and want more.