Checking References

When you start collecting all of those resumes, there is a lot of information to take in. You’ll look at education, work experience, skills, and accomplishments. One thing you’ll look at is references, though you’ll probably avoid it as long as possible.

Really, you don’t need to check references until after your initial applicant screenings, but keep in mind that reference checking is an important part of the process. Once you determine which applicants would make great candidates, you, you can start checking references. Applicants should have provided you with their references, but you may need to ask. Once you have the references, it’s time to start checking them. Here are a few tips on how to properly check references:

Phone vs. Email

In some cases, the references you receive may have phone numbers and email addresses. It’s tempting to send an email because they are less invasive and time-consuming. However, what you’ll most likely get back are thought-out and developed answers that can be tailored to make the candidate look better. Instead of emailing, call the references to get their true and real-time response to your questions. Putting someone on the spot isn’t exactly fun, but you’ll get better answers to your questions.

Professional vs. Personal

Some applicants will probably provide you with a personal reference (or two). While you can learn some information from personal references, this information is probably going to make the candidate look amazing. Instead, you need to be looking for professional references. It’s important to figure out what the candidate’s professional relationship is to the reference. Does the reference work at one of the candidate’s previous places of employment? Did they work directly together? Did the candidate work under the reference?

The Right Questions

Coming up with a question to ask isn’t a big deal, but coming up with the right question can be a little more difficult. You have a limited time to talk to the reference, so you need to get to the point with your questions and they need to be specific. Here are a few examples:

  • What is your professional relationship with him/her?
  • What was his/her role in their last place of employment?
  • When did he/she begin work there and when did they leave?
  • Do you know why they left their previous position?
  • If you had the power to, would you hire this person to work for you?
  • If I explain the role I’m trying to fill, can you tell me if you think he/she will be a good fit?

The goal of your conversation is to find out more about the candidate. By asking smart and specific questions, you can learn how this person works, how dedicated they are, and what skills they offer as an employee.

Reference checking may not be the most exciting part of the hiring process, but it is certainly one of the most important steps. Though you may be tempted to skip this step, just remember that by checking references, you are going to learn valuable information that can help you decide if you they are a great fit for the role and your organization.

Screening applicants and qualifying candidates can be a real challenge, but you don’t have to do it alone. Diverse Staffing can help you out today!