As a seasoned hiring manager, you don’t have to be told the importance of checking references. In fact, you wouldn’t dream of hiring a candidate without contacting a few references who can vouch for them. Of course, all references aren’t created equal, so you need to make sure the people you speak with paint an accurate picture of the person.
Review this list of common reference-checking mistakes before extending a job offer to make sure you’re following an effective procedure.
Accepting Any Type of References
Personal references are nice, but speaking to a candidate’s mother or best friend won’t help you make a sound hiring decision. Former managers are always best, but at a minimum, you need people who have worked directly with the person. If the candidate can’t provide any references who meet this standard, you probably don’t want to hire them.
Trusting the Candidate to Provide Correct Information
You want to believe a candidate wouldn’t provide false reference information, but you don’t really know this person, so you need to cover all your bases. If the candidate provides you with a cell phone for their reference — or a landline that isn’t a work number — do a little digging to make sure the person really is who they claim to be. The last thing you want is to hire the candidate and find out later the reference you called was really a friend pretending to be a former manager.
Calling Only One or Two Names on the List
You probably ask candidates to provide three to four references, so be sure to contact everyone on the list. This is an incredible opportunity to perform due diligence on the person prior to making a hiring decision, so don’t miss this chance to learn as much as possible about them. Sure, reaching out to everyone will take a little extra time, but it’s certainly well spent.
Failing to Ask Questions That Scratch the Surface
During a job interview, you wouldn’t ask a candidate close-ended questions that can be answered with a “yes” or “no” response, so use this approach with their references as well. Ask questions with depth so you can gather as much information as possible, allowing you to gauge the person’s fit for both the position and your company culture.
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