Many companies check references before hiring, but not all companies understand the value of reference checks, or how to check references the right way. By asking the right questions and performing reference checks consistently before making any hire, you can make this step of the hiring process more useful and productive.
Why Check References?
Job candidates may provide you with information about themselves during the interview questions and interviewing process, but not all candidates are up front about their weaknesses. Often, people have a skewed perspective of their own job performance.
Reference checks are a way to verify information that is provided by interview candidates before making a final hiring decision. Through reference checks, you can learn information about a candidate’s performance, skills, work history, attendance, and other important details.
If you’re concerned about something unusual on a candidate’s resume, checking references can help. In addition, a successful employment reference check can help you rank candidates, if you’re trying to decide between two or more potential hires.
Which Questions Should You Ask?
Ask questions that provide information about a candidate’s overall performance and skills.
- For this position, we need someone who can [fill in the blank]. How would you rate [name]’s performance in this area?
- What are [name]’s greatest strengths?
- Why did [name] leave your company?
- Would you rehire [name]?
- How would you rate [name]’s communication skills?
- [Describe the position] Based on what I’ve told you, do you think [name] would be a good fit here?
- Describe [name]’s managerial style.
- What are one or two skills that might not be listed on their resume?
Tips for Reference Checks
These smart tips for reference checks can help make checking references as productive as possible, and can help you uncover information that lead to smarter job hires.
- Prepare your list of questions in advance.
- Keep the conversations short: no longer than 10 minutes.
- Ask consistent questions from one reference to another.
- Call at least 2 references.
- Tailor your list of questions to the position. For example, if on-time attendance is vitally important to the position, ask multiple questions relating to the candidate’s attendance record.
- Always check with your HR department to ensure that the questions you wish to ask are in compliance with HR policies where you work.
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