Why reference checking is important
When applying for a new job, most candidates will try to portray themselves in the best possible light, attempting to stand out against the rest, and a resume, cover letter and interview are vital details recruitment consultants need to feel confident when hiring a candidate. A majority of candidates have nothing to hide and are motivated by presenting themselves honestly, however, these details often only scratch the surface of the candidate’s suitability to a role.
A common way to better learn about candidates is to conduct a reference check. A valuable tool, it ensures consultants have the full picture and can confirm the information they currently have is correct.
The two part process
Reference checks are a two-part process. The first part entails confirming the accuracy of the candidate’s background information. This is inclusive of their credentials, employment dates, job title, duties and most recent supervisors. The information provided can help in confirming that the candidate is who they say they are and can be cleared to work for the client.
This step is followed by filling in the gaps in the provided facts. This means gathering more detailed answers by asking for clarification around certain information to check understanding and to gain more insight into the candidate at hand. Filling these gaps reassures the consulting agency that the candidate fits the culture of the client and that their credentials will translate to successes for that business. Remember that reference checks are interviews, not interrogations. Therefore, the best course of action is to make the process simple and easy for each of the references being contacted.
Focus areas of reference checking
There are three focus areas when it comes to successfully reference checking candidates. These are as follows:
1. Be Deliberate
Consultants should be looking to resolve any issues, gaps or discrepancies within the candidate’s profile, therefore being deliberate in the information being sought after can be significantly conducive to providing more specific answers. Being polite, yet confident in questions to the candidate’s references localises the information sought and is a far more time effective way to interview. So too, focus questions on whether a candidate ‘will do the job well’ or be ‘the right fit for the job’, not whether they can perform the job.
2. Delve into a candidates accomplishments
The primary goal of a reference check is to get a third-party perspective of a candidate’s information and accomplishments. Through asking open-ended questions, similar to if you were interviewing the candidate, recruitment consultants can gain more of an insight into the individual achievements of their candidates. Focus questions on professional challenges that the candidate has faced, their actions taken to work through this and what results were achieved. Such questions provide specific and detailed examples that the consultant can take into consideration during their decision-making process.
3. Build the full picture
The overall picture of the candidate is illustrated and consolidated through the specific examples that each reference provides and consequently allows the recruitment consultant to make an informed and confident hiring decision. A hasty hiring choice can often be very costly to businesses and rushing a candidate hire without reference checks could spell bad news. Consultants need to take the time and be diligent in hiring the right candidate for the job as every client relies on the successes of each selection. Recruiting consultants should consider it a personal and professional responsibility to always ask candidates for a list of professional references. Even though a candidate looks like a perfect fit on paper, trust personal instincts, pick up the phone and make the call.