What to Look for When Checking References

The cost of a poor hire can be as high as three to four times their salary. When you add in intangible costs such as stress and lower morale on the part of co-workers, you can easy see why it’s worthwhile not to skip reference checks as a key part of your hiring process.

All too often, resumes are embellished. This makes references – both those supplied by candidates and those you seek out on your own – an invaluable tool for ensuring the person you initially identified as a good potential hire is actually who they claim to be.

Do Due Diligence

Check out all references provided by a candidate. Google them or check them out on LinkedIn. When someone is desperate to land a job, they may resort to moves that are less than sensible or professional, including fabricated references.

What to Ask

Carefully and strategically plan the questions you will pose to candidates’ references. This will enable you to gain greater insight into a person’s knowledge and abilities from someone who has actually witnessed or worked with them as they performed.

  • Focus on core skills and success measures as outlined in your job description. Ask references about the same traits you ask candidates. For instance, if you question an applicant on their communication, time management or decision making strengths, ask their references for specific examples when your prospect successfully demonstrated these qualities.
  • You also can ask a hypothetical question. A strong, telling example is, “Would you rehire Mary if you had the opportunity?” The response to this inquiry can speak volumes. With this and all questions, pay attention to the reference’s tone of voice and whether or not they hesitate before answering, as well as their actual words. And, if a response sounds rehearsed or memorized, let that be an immediate red flag.

Don’t Put Words in Their Mouth

If you’re anxious to make an offer or think you’ve found the perfect person for a job, you still need to avoid manipulating the conversation to go in your favor. Steer clear of leading questions or comments such as “Mary works exceptionally well in team situations, right?” or “Jim sounds like an experienced customer service pro. Do you agree?”

Take Detailed Notes

You never know when you may need to refer back to some of the comments made by a candidate’s references – so be sure to take detailed notes of these conversations.

  • Look for consistency. If one reference gives a glowing report and another is negative, or even mediocre, go the extra mile and check with at least one more before making a decision.

The recruitment experts at Pridestaff Fresno can help you ensure your reference checking process – and overall hiring strategy – is geared toward success. And, we can help you find leading candidates so you start off strong when it comes to filling your business-critical positions. Contact us today so we can tell you more.

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