There are a lot of steps that go into an optimized hiring process and because of this, there are times when it can be tempting to cut corners. Although that decision may seem like a reasonable way to save a little time, it can really end up costing a company. Checking references is a perfect example of one step that hiring managers 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 is actually not in their best interest to skip this step? There are countless examples of candidates who present themselves well despite having a checkered employment past. If you want to protect your organization from hiring the wrong fit, here are the steps to conducting a proper reference check.
Understanding the relationship between your candidate and their reference is key to getting the most out of a reference check. Taking time to interview your candidate before checking references will give you the opportunity to seek insight into the relationship. Knowing what type of relationship your candidate had with the reference will help you to verify that the reference is legitimate and to tailor specific questions to get the most out of the conversation, two other steps in performing a useful 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 are legitimate. Once you have done that, reach out to the reference by email and schedule a convenient time to speak with them on the phone. If you are doing a lot of interviews with employees and talks with references, there are software tools, such as Calendly, that allow people to easily choose their preferred time to speak with you based on your calendar's availability.
Prepare and tailor your questions to get the kind of information you need. 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 useful information that comes up during these conversations.
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