Ah, references. They can be that little added oomph your candidate needs to get the job- It can also be the axe that puts them out the running.
Many candidates offer references when you interview them. You may already have some if they applied online and your company requires they list a few.
The reference check is a valuable way to check the validity of the claims made by the candidate in respect of experience and qualifications. It gives another point of view on their people skills and areas where personal development may be needed.
Up to the point of the reference check you only have the candidate providing you with information. Your assessment based on this information will determine whether you believe they can perform the role, however a reference check can confirm your impression or lead you to investigate further before making a job offer.
Good employees don't hesitate in providing names of people willing to provide references. They may not wish to use their current employers as some seekers don’t want them to now-now anyway-that they’re looking for another job.
All reference checks require some interpretation. Some important things to listen for in a reference check are indicators of qualified experience and simply if they were a good employee. Most good candidates have references who will praise them. An honest reference will say if they had any opportunities and if they were able to overcome them. Remember, no one is perfect, and if they can over work on trouble areas then that’s a great sign.
One of the most valuable questions in a reference check is: Would you re-employ this person? The obvious answer here is an unqualified yes.
As recruitment has moved out of the Human Resources field to be delegated to managers there has been an alarming increase in dropping the reference check from the interview process, and you know, it really shouldn’t.
A reference check takes only a few minutes and can save you months in performance management and dismissal processes. No matter how good the candidate appears to be, the reference check is a valuable tool that should be used for every selection process.
Do you find reference checks to beneficial? Why or why not?
Ty Abernethy is founder of ZuzuHire, a multimedia interviewing tool incorporating video, voice, essay and multiple-choice questions. He has a background in executive recruiting, and currently manages the finance/accounting recruiting division of Chase Professionals.