Go Beyond Reference Checks Before You Hire

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We’ve recently heard stories from several employers about new hires who rapidly turned out to be poor employees and had to be let go. One key reason is that the employer didn’t do enough legwork and ran only a cursory reference check. If you missed our new step-by-step article, check out Reference Checks: Digging for the Truth.

The question arises, are reference checks enough to ensure the credibility of a candidate? Keep in mind that the list of references your candidate has provided are people handpicked by the candidate, who hopes that those people will represent him or her favorably.

An experienced recruiter will advise you not to limit yourself to just the references provided by the candidate. In the interview, get the candidate’s permission to call former managers and other connections not listed as a reference. The more people you talk to who have experience with John, the more complete will be your puzzle of what John is really like. To refer back to the reference checks article:

Before you ever make a call, set your candidate’s expectations for reference checks. Scott Kuethen, CEO of Amtec, a Southern California-based staffing company, recommends that you lay the groundwork for reference checks in your interview with John. “In the interview with the candidate, I look him in the eye and ask, ‘So who was your supervisor at ABC Company, John? Mrs. Jones? And when I call Mrs. Jones, what will she tell me was your greatest achievement?’ Letting him know that I’ll be specifically calling his supervisor usually opens up the door for more honest conversation. If candidates believe I’m really going to call all their past supervisors, our conversations will likely be different. Sometimes, they’ll even tell me, ‘Oh, don’t call that one!’”

Always remember, past performance is the best predictor of future behavior!

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