We’ve written before on numerous occasions about the high cost of making a bad hire. A mistake at any point in the hiring process can result in such a calamity. That’s why employers must be extremely vigilant during the process, especially during the decision-making portion of that process.
References should certainly be part of what hiring managers consider when making their decisions. However, sometimes references are overlooked or not enough emphasis is put on them. This can result in a mistake that can lead to a mis-hire . . . exactly the opposite of what you want to accomplish.
As a result, it’s important to pay close attention to this part of the hiring process. With that in mind, below are some tips and best practices for checking references:
Talk about references during the interview.
Let the candidate know that you might be contacting their references. Be sure to ask for five to six references. The candidate should have brought a list with them, in addition to their resume. Also secure the candidate’s consent for you to contact their references. This should be understood, of course, but it’s always better to “dot your i’s and cross your t’s.”
Strive to speak with more than just supervisors.
You want to gain as comprehensive a picture of the candidate as possible. That’s why speaking with five supervisors may be counter-productive in that regard. That makes your reference checking quite one-dimensional and lopsided. You should also seek out colleagues and even subordinates of the candidate. This will help to present a much balanced view of their employment history, as told by others.
Once on the phone, start slowly and build from there.
You don’t want the people with whom you’re speaking to be skittish or nervous. Tell them that their comments will remain confidential. Describe the position and what it requires. It’s important to put references at ease before diving right in with a flurry of serious questions.
Ask open-ended questions.
Stay away from questions that can be answered with a simple “Yes” or “No,” if at all possible. You want the references to talk at length about the candidate. The more they talk, the more information you can glean from the conversation. The combination of putting the person at ease and asking open-ended questions should provide the type of results that you’re seeking.
Confirm what the candidate has said.
This includes confirming what the candidate has said both on their resume and also during the face-to-face interview. Unfortunately, there are candidates who are dishonest, and the main reason they are dishonest is because they’re trying to enhance their candidacy in some fashion. Reference checking is a great way to make sure that what the candidate has said is the truth and not an enthusiastic embellishment.
Another way to ensure that the top candidates in your organization’s hiring process are actually top candidates is to partner with an experienced recruiting firm. Recruiters have the expertise and connections necessary to identify top talent in the marketplace and thoroughly qualify that talent before you hire.
Because you want to hire the right person, not the wrong one.
The Doepker Group has extensive experience identifying and recruiting top candidates in the marketplace. Click here to find out more about our services for employers!