Hiring the right employees for an organization of any size is never an easy task. However, it's one of the most important things a business can do. Whether a company is focused on growth or ensuring its continued success, the people who are brought into an organization will directly impact what it does in the future.
Since there are a lot of steps that go into a fully optimized hiring process, there are times when someone may be tempted to cut corners. Although that decision may seem like a reasonable way to save a little time, it can end up costing a company in a big way.
Checking references is the perfect example of something that an individual involved in hiring may think about glossing over. If a candidate has a solid resume and interviews well, checking their references may seem like an unnecessary formality. But the reason it's actually not is there are countless examples of candidates who present themselves well despite having a checkered employment past.
So if you want to protect your organization from hiring someone who isn't actually a good fit, here are the steps to conducting a proper reference check:
A surprising number of candidates include one or more fake references. So before reaching out to a reference, be sure to use tools like LinkedIn to verify that they're legitimate. Once you've done that, reach out to the reference by email and schedule a convenient time to speak with them on the phone. If you're doing a lot of interviews with employees and talks with references, there are software tools that allow people to easily choose their preferred time to speak with you based on your calendar's availability.
When you get on the phone with a reference, make it clear that you appreciate them taking the time to speak with you. Even though this seems like a small detail, it will allow you to get the best information from your talk. It's also important to be respectful of their time.
A common mistake individuals make when calling a reference is asking a lot of questions without a clear focus. Not only do you want to plan your questions ahead of time, but be sure you have a clear reason for each one. In addition to listening closely to each answer, make sure you have a convenient way to jot down notes about any interesting information that comes up during your talks with references.
If you want to maximize the quality of candidates who come into your hiring pipeline, learn how to improve your organization's recruiting strategy.
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