Should you check references?
Some hiring managers are reluctant to get involved with checking references because of the legal implications associated with it. And it’s certainly true that some employers are reluctant to give out much information about former employees because of legal considerations.
But this should not deter anyone from checking references because there is a lot of valuable information to be gained from doing so.
How to go about it.
1. Inform the candidate
Let the candidate know upfront that you will be checking references. Doing this will help to ensure that the answers they give will be truthful.
2. Do it yourself
Don’t assign anyone else to check references. If the job candidate will be reporting to you, you should be the one to check references. You know the requirements of the position better than anyone else and will know the best questions to ask in order to determine if the person would be a good fit for the job.
3. Use the candidate’s answers
When talking with a reference you can start the conversation by referring to the answers the candidate gave you.
4. Prepare questions
It is best to prepare your questions in advance when doing references checks. This way, you can be sure you are covering the areas that you need to and getting the right information you need. You should also take notes about the answers.
1. Negative feedback
Obviously, if a reference does not have many good things to say about the candidate, it’s a pretty easy decision not to hire the person. However, when interviewing the reference, probe a little more deeply to find out why the person did not like the candidate’s performance. You may find that the negative comments are the result of personality conflicts rather than performance.
Checking with other references will give you a better indication whether that’s the case or not.
2. Only basic information
Some employers will only give out basic information, such things as the person’s job title and dates of employment. This might be an indication that the person was not the best worker. Or it might just be company policy.
If you encounter this situation, you may get better results with more direct questions, rather than open-ended ones. Questions that require only a yes or no answer may work better. For example, a question like, “Would you hire this person again?” might be more effective.
If the reference gives you information that does not match what the candidate told you, this should raise a red flag about the person. In this case, you may want to get back to the candidate and give them an opportunity to explain the discrepancy.