Reference checks – they’re generally a final piece of the recruitment puzzle. To many, the process of conducting reference checks is considered a necessary “evil”. And, to many others, it’s not considered necessary at all. Popular thought is reference checks are pointless since the vast majority of job hunters aren’t bound to list any references who would provide unfavourable reviews.

In fact, some job applicants will list friends and even family members to pose as former employees and supervisors just so they can ensure high praise is delivered. However, it’s incredibly necessary to follow up on each and every reference provided by your candidates. You want to know as much about the people you’re considering hiring as you can. Learning about such things as the duties of their former positions and whether or not absenteeism was a problem is essential.

What are the most important reasons to conduct reference checks?

Firstly, you’re looking for the best possible indicator of a job applicant’s future performance. Who better to inform you than an ex-employer? Especially if the reference is someone your potential new hire worked directly under, you’ll be able to get valuable insight into his/her abilities.

Secondly, references can fill you in about a candidate’s attitude. What type of behaviour does your potential new hire exhibit in the workplace? Is he/she a someone who works well with team members? It he/she a self-starter and quick learner or is extra supervision required? And finally, conducting reference checks helps you to avoid unnecessary risks to your company and the existing team. You certainly don’t want to add an unsavoury type to the mix.

What types of questions should be asked during reference checks?

It’s important to be specific during your line of questions. You want to tailor your questions in ways that helps you determine if your candidate is an ideal fit in the specific role you’re hiring for. As RecruitLoop’s co-founder, Paul Slezak suggests, avoid asking such questions as “Was she a good staff member?” or “How many sick days did she have?”

Be more specific, he insists. “When did Nicole ever have to ‘sell’ an idea to a co-worker? How did she do it?” Slezak offers as concrete examples, “Can you give me an example of a time when Alex had to be quick in coming to a decision? What obstacles did he face? What did he do? The questions you ask should prompt the candidate’s former supervisor to talk about the candidate’s actual past experiences and behaviour – ideally in more than just a 2-minute quick call.”

Obviously, you want to be sure that you pay close attention to what references say about your potential new hire. However, you need to listen for “the pause”.

What does it mean to listen for “the pause”?

As important as it for you to get valuable information about your potential new hires, it’s just as important to consider the details that haven’t been reported by their references. What are they things that they didn’t say? Listening for “the pause” means to train your ear for silence. In other words, you may have heard that your job applicant is a competent worker – but you didn’t hear any examples of how well he/she is able to meet deadlines.

Far too many hiring managers have been burned by new hires that have been given chances without having any of their references checked. Don’t let the “gotcha” experience of discovering that an employee is nothing like what is described on his/her résumé happen to you! Reference checking is a necessary part of the hiring process. Don’t skip it – no matter what!

For more information about the best ways to go about conducting your reference checks, contact the recruitment experts! Give Hire Value Inc. a call at 403-978-3827 today!