Don’t Overlook Reference Checks

You are considering hiring a candidate that has a stellar resume, dazzled you during the job interview, and seems like the perfect fit for the position you are trying to fill. It’s easy to think you’ve done all the necessary due diligence and have all the information you need to confidently offer this person a position. But if you have not checked out their references, you have overlooked a crucial step.

Just because an applicant gives all the right answers during a job interview doesn’t mean they are actually capable of doing the work you need them to do. As a recruiter, it is your responsibility to base hiring decision on facts, not assumptions, and you can’t get to the heart of the truth without consulting references that have worked with this candidate personally. Here are some tips for effectively conducting reference checks.

Act Fast

Too often, hiring managers make a decision to hire a person and then conduct a cursory series of reference checks. But if your mind is already made up, you will only hear the information you want to hear from past employers and coworkers. Make sure you call references before you make a final hiring decision.

Focus on Facts

As much as possible, seek out information that is verifiable and backed up by clear metrics. Ask about sales figures, timelines, productivity indicators, and actual measures of accomplishment. Also, don’t hesitate to confirm a candidate’s credentials by asking for college transcripts and proof of certifications and licenses.

Ask Strategic Questions

References often want to cast the candidate in question in a positive light. Unfortunately, this doesn’t really give you the accurate picture that you’re looking for. Ask open-ended questions that force the reference to go beyond shallow praise. Examples include:

  • What are this person’s strengths and weaknesses?
  • How did they contribute to the success of your mission?
  • How can the candidate improve?
  • Would you feel comfortable hiring this person again?

Be Respectful

Never ask questions related to a person’s age, race, religion, or sexuality. This information is irrelevant to your hiring decision, and bringing up these topics could get you into legal trouble. Be sure that you document any conversation you had with a reference and include it in the candidate’s file.

Get More Information

If you feel like you need to get more information, or a different quality of information, don’t hesitate to ask a reference to put you in touch with someone else that knows the candidate. Sometimes you get the best information by seeking out a reference that a candidate has not specifically pointed you towards.

Conducting thorough reference checks can be a time consuming process, but it is vital if you want to make confident hiring decisions. Learn more about effective recruiting by working with CultureFit.