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Reference Checking Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Reference checks are a fairly easy, painless task to perform, yet so many companies skip this step. Some employers feel it is a waste of time, as they will never truly get honest answers. Other employers just don’t know where to start so they go with how the interview went and their gut feeling about the candidate. Truthfully, reference checks are an extremely important and effective part of the hiring process. The High Profile team has compiled some of the most common reference checking mistakes to help you know what to avoid when hiring a new employee.

Not checking the references at all. As mentioned above, it may seem like a waste of time, but really it’s important to talk to a potential candidate’s reference. There is a lot you can learn about the candidate through the reference’s tone of voice and overall demeanor.

Lack of consistency. Sometimes employers check references on certain candidates and not on others. The overall comprehensiveness of the check does not have to be the same for each candidate, but some form of reference checking should be carried out.

Making the job offer contingent on a reference check. This is a mistake on the employer’s behalf, because reference checking should be done much earlier. Once the top candidates have been identified, that’s the time to check references for confirmed skills, experience, and ability. Once the references are confirmed, employers should then make their final decision.

Not requiring references who have worked directly with the candidate. Of course candidates are going to include references that will give them the best possible review. But, employers have every right to ask for additional references of people the candidate has directly worked with. These types of references would include at least one former supervisor and one peer. It’s ideal to get a mix of references of people who have worked with the candidate on a daily basis.

Asking leading questions, but not following up. When it’s time to do a reference check, it’s important to ask more than “yes” or “no” questions. For example, instead of asking, “Was Mary a good worker?” they should ask, “How would you describe Mary’s performance on a daily basis?” Make sure to ask logical, follow-up questions to these answers too. For example, “You mentioned Mary worked great, could you give me some examples of how?”

When checking references, customize the questions to fit your needs and you will have a great tool for deciding on candidates. Reference checking does involve time and insight, but it is a useful hiring tool for any employer. For more tips on checking references, contact us today!