Checking references continues to be one of the most important aspects of hiring new employees, but with the cyber-age has come attempts to automate the process. Those striving for an instantaneous process are missing out on the most important aspect of reference checking: human interaction.
It takes skill, tact, and intuition to perform a proper reference check. A solid reference check also requires that you don’t make the following five mistakes.
Not Checking the References at All: Enough said!
Lack of Consistency in Checking References: Selective reference checking is risky. If employers are checking references for one candidate, they should be checking them for all prospective employees. The breadth of the reference check doesn’t have to be the same for everyone, however, as it may vary according to the position requirements.
Making Job Offers Contingent on References: Often, hiring authorities wait until they have decided on one candidate for the job, and offer them the job dependant on the reference check. Not only is this too late to be doing a reference check, but it creates a legal relationship between the employer and the candidate. References should be checked when the candidate pool has been narrowed down to two or three people.
Not Asking for Certain Types of References: Contrary to popular belief, employers are entitled to ask for additional references and do not have to make do with only the ones the candidate wants to supply. Employers should ask for a supervisor, peer, and subordinate that worked with the candidate in the last five to seven years.
Asking Leading Questions & Failing to Follow-Up on Responses: Avoid “yes” or “no” questions. Don’t ask if the candidate was a good worker. Instead, ask what type of worker they were. Also, don’t forget to follow-up on vague answers or to ask for examples to illustrate the reference’s answers.
By avoiding these common reference checking mistakes, employers ensure that they are taking full advantage of a useful hiring tool. Poorly performed reference checking can result in high turnover and even harm to the hiring company. Careful reference checking helps to ensure hiring quality, productive employees.
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