Why You Should be Conducting Reference Checks

It’s a sad reality of hiring: Some candidates are guilty of fudging on their resumes, and others are flat-out lying. In many of these cases, no real harm is done by these embellishments or by the start- and end-date manipulations that applicants use to hide gaps in their employment history. The problem is employers have no way of knowing if these are little white lies or the fraudulent kind that could get them embroiled in a costly lawsuit.

Companies that don’t do reference checks could be putting their businesses at risk. No matter how impressive an applicant looks on paper or sounds in an interview, the reference check should still be an essential part of the hiring process.

Is a reference check worth the time it takes?

The short answer is “Yes.” Checking references allows you to obtain information that’s independent of the application or resume. It’s the best way to validate the information you obtained during the interview, and it’s also a way to clear up any gray areas.

There is also a financial benefit. The information you get could prevent a hiring mistake that could cost you production time, not to mention the expense of restarting the hiring process to undo a mistake you could have prevented with a short phone call.

When is the best time to do a reference check?

As mentioned, some candidates look perfect on paper but don’t perform well during the interview. There are also those who do well in the interview but fall flat once they are on the job. Resumes are often overstated, and accomplishments can be exaggerated, so it’s important to take steps to ensure the person you interviewed is the same one who shows up for work.

The way to ensure this is to do all your reference checks before you make a job offer. It’s the best way for you to have a good idea how this person will perform on the job.

Ask the right questions

As a rule of thumb, when checking references with the candidate’s former supervisor, it’s a good idea to ask the same questions you asked the candidate. Those questions should encourage the supervisor to talk about the candidate’s actual experiences from a different perspective.

Don’t bother with questions that require yes or no answers (Was he good to work with?) or numbers (How many days did she miss?). There is little insight to be gained from them.

Watch out for fake references

Occasionally, a desperate candidate will have you check with a former “boss” who is nothing more than a friend who has been asked to sing the praises of his buddy. Check them out on LinkedIn and use the company’s number to connect with them. That’s a foolproof way to find out if you’re speaking to an imposter.

Do you have plans to hire?

United Personnel has been providing staffing solutions to Western Massachusetts and beyond for over 30 years. Let us use our experience and expertise to help you build a strong team for your business. Contact us today for more information.