Never Skip the Reference Check

How far will a person go to look like the perfect candidate? One of our Amtec recruiters found out recently, and his experience will remind you to never skip the reference check!

The Candidate Search

Ryan, the lead recruiter for our Direct Hire team, was conducting a candidate search for a construction company. One of the candidates he found—let’s call her Lindsey—seemed like a good fit. In addition to her very charismatic personality, the skills and experience on her resume matched the needs of the position. Ryan sent Lindsey’s information to the customer, who liked what they saw and asked to interview her.

A Good Candidate?

Although Lindsey came across well in the interview, some of her responses made the customer wonder whether her experience was as deep as she’d said on her resume. Ryan decided to do a little digging and called the cell phone numbers for the two references Lindsey had given. Both former supervisors, one male and the other female with a British accent, verified Lindsey’s experience and gave her reassuring references.

The Reference Checks

To be certain of the sources, however, Ryan went a step further. He looked up the company names on the references and called the first one. To his surprise, when he asked for the male supervisor by name, he was assured by a long-time general manager that no one by that name had ever worked there.

Ryan then called the second company and asked for the female supervisor by name. When she came on the phone, she had a British accent, and Ryan asked, “Oh, did I talk to you yesterday about Lindsey, a former employee of yours?” The supervisor assured him that he had not. As Ryan explained the situation, she told him that Lindsey had been employed there but was a terrible employee whom she would not recommend to anyone!

The Scam

Now, Ryan called Lindsey herself and revealed what he had learned. The candidate admitted that the cell phone numbers she’d given him were her boyfriend’s and mother’s personal numbers. (Yes, her mother had gone so far as to accurately mimic the female supervisor’s British accent!) Lindsey also said a few unkind words about her previous supervisor and then quickly hung up, obviously frustrated to have been caught in the lie.

Four Tips to Remember After Interviewing a Candidate

What can you learn from this incredible story? Here are four takeaways to keep you from making a hiring mistake:

  1. Don’t take anyone at face value. Some candidates will attempt to deceive you in order to look like the right candidate for your open position. Not many will go to such extraordinary lengths as Lindsey, but you can’t always tell who’s telling the whole truth just by one or two interviews.
  2. Don’t stop at the cell number. There’s nothing wrong with a candidate giving you a reference’s cell number, but go the distance in making sure your sources really are who they say they are.
  3. Don’t ignore your gut. Margie Warrell, Forbes contributor, warns, “If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. And there’s a reason for that—our intuition rarely lies.” Don’t let yourself get too busy to listen to your intuition or ignore it because you don’t like what it’s telling you, adds Warrell. It can’t hurt to ask a few more questions before making an important decision that impacts your entire organization.
  4. Don’t get ahead of yourself. Sometimes, a candidate may seem so likeable or charismatic, you may be tempted to make a snap decision. But if you take this story to heart, you’ll know to never skip the reference check, or you could end up with…well, someone just like Lindsey!

Do you know how to conduct a thorough reference check? Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you reference check your next employee.

Are you looking to hire top professionals? Amtec can help you by actively marketing your job opportunities, connecting you to passive job seekers, and assisting with offer negotiations. Click here or call (714) 993-1900 to start your search.

Amtec Bitz Newsletters

Essential industry highlights & expert insights every month.

Latest Posts

View all posts