Advice for how to properly check
references when hiring

By Daniel M. Rover, CEO

OK. You’ve screened resumes, done in person interviews and have identified a
candidate you think you would like to hire. What’s next? Checking the
candidate’s references. This is an important part of the hiring process that often
gets overlooked. Remember, reference checks are different than background
checks. Reference checks can be conducted to gain a better understanding of the
candidate’s work history and performance.

Consider these best practices for checking references:

  1. Ask the candidate for three professional references and what they think
    these references will say about them. Ideally the references will be
    former supervisors and not HR reps. HR Reps will not give you quality
    information about your candidate
  2. Use email to set up the call with the reference, but do NOT use email to
    check with the reference. A conversation that is open-ended will yield
    more and better information.
  3. Keep in mind that the reference has limited time. If you request 10
    minutes, limit the time to 10 minutes.
  4. Use open-ended questions and then listen. Most references will
    volunteer what you need to learn if you do more listening than talking.
  5. Provide the reference with a brief job description so they will know what
    the position requires.
  6. Keep the line of questioning legal and job-related to avoid possible
    slander. If something is questionable, consult a human resources
  7. Beware of references who have been coached by the candidate.
  8. If references contradict one another, seek an additional reference.

Good luck. Proper reference checks will help you avoid hiring the wrong person
and are a necessary investment of time and effort for you to build a team that will
help you succeed.

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