Are you taking reference checks seriously?


Think you’ve found the right candidate for the job?  Make sure to still conduct a reference check.

Too many managers pass off reference checks to the HR department for a quick check, usually done by email, or sometimes they skip them entirely.  Why put so much time and energy into the interview process and then skip this crucial step?  Here are a few suggestions/tips on conducting reference checks.


Inform the candidates upfront that you check references.

Want an easy way to weed out candidates with poor references or problems to hide?  Be upfront about the reference check and you may find that your candidate list shrinks itself.  The people that you do interview will tend to be more accurate and honest during the interview process.


1. Don’t delegate the reference check process to someone else.


I know your day is busy and it may not seem like a big deal to delegate the reference check to HR, but it could be a huge mistake.  Only you know exactly what you are looking for in an employee and no one else will ask the same questions that you would.  It could be a casual remark made about the candidate that may reveal something that clashes with your companies’ culture.   Something you would have missed had someone else been conducting the reference check.


2. Make sure and take detailed notes.


When speaking with a candidates former managers it is important to take detailed notes of the conversation especially if you are talking to multiple managers for multiple candidates. You never know when you might need to refer back your notes when evaluating the candidate for a potential hire. Conduct at least 2 reference checks from the most recent managers/supervisors of the candidate. If one reference is great and you get a mixed review on the other one it is best to get a third reference before making a final decision.


3. Conduct the reference checks by phone.

Pick up the phone when conducting reference checks.  You miss out on tone and inflection when using email, and can easily misinterpret content.  Enthusiasm is difficult to distinguish and you can’t hear hesitation to a answer by reading the response through email.


4. Start off with easy questions.


Warm up with some easy questions (“How long did you work together”) before diving in.  Always pay attention to your wording.  Rather than asking “What do you feel are Carla’s biggest weaknesses?” you could ask “What do feel Carla needs to do to further her career?”  Word questions in a positive way rather than trying to sniff out problems. Also beware of fake references make sure that the reference you are checking is with the manager and not merely a coworker. To make things go more smoothly have a set of questions written down that you wish to ask the manager.


5. Verify employment dates

Make sure employment  dates listed on the resume are the correct dates when you verify them with the manager. We often talk to candidates who say they worked at their last company for 2 years when it was only 2 months. Some times the last position on a candidates resume will say 2010 to present for example when really that position ended in 2013 and it is currently 2016.


6. Review social media content/posts.


This is yet another sort of reference check. Checking any public Facebook posts and Twitter feeds, can show revealing information about the candidate.  Also check out their LinkedIn profile to look for resume discrepancies and recommendations. You can also check to see if they share any professional contacts as these may provide more references for you to check.

Make sure and take the time to do reference checks and don’t merely write them off as a nuisance.  You might learn the hard way that a few phone calls could make all the difference in selecting the right employee for your position.

If you do not have the time to sort through hundreds or thousands of resumes and need top qualified  full screened and reference checked talent contact the IT Atlanta staffing agency at Apollo Technical Today

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