Are You Making These Reference Check Mistakes?

In spite of ongoing efforts to boil down the process of reference checking to a quick online exercise, there still isn’t a solid alternative to the human conversation that must happen between the reference checker and the references themselves.

To get optimal results, the process calls for instinct, common sense, good listening skills and the capacity to incorporate various comments in a manner that precisely shows the candidate’s viability for the position. Quite simply, people have to talk to each other when it comes to the matter of professional references.

The follow are common mistakes hiring personnel make when it comes to checking references.

Skipping it

Some employers don’t bother to check references at all. It may seem irresponsible at first thought, but looking into references can be a thorny issue, with the occasional job seeker having filed lawsuits against references they thought ruined their chances of getting a job.

Even worse, some hiring managers will check the references of some applicants and not others. While the scope and depth of each individual reference check doesn’t have to be identical, a company should be consistent in how it evaluates candidates. Not doing so could open a company up to legal issues and accusations of discrimination.

If your company has made the decision that it wants to check professional references and it asks applicants to supply a list of them, hiring managers must absolutely must look into each and every reference.

Basing a job offer on the reference checks

References ought to be checked once the hiring process is nearing its end. As soon as the top two or three applicants have been identified by resume screenings and phone interviews, references need to be checked before they can be considered for the final job offer.

If the references validate a candidate’s abilities and experience, then a follow-up interview should be performed with that knowledge. More to the point, making an offer based on a reference check generates a legal connection between the company and candidate, an action that only opens the company up to liability.

Not mandating that references have worked with the candidate

Organizations frequently and wrongly believe the only references open to them are those connected to the candidate’s resume. Organizations have every right to request that applicants supply the kinds of references they want, not only the ones the candidate wants to give them.

Every company should tell applicants to supply the names of at least one past supervisor, a peer and a subordinate. Although that combination may not always happen, the idea is to connect with individuals who have actually dealt with the candidate in a professional capacity.

Not asking open-ended questions

The last thing you want to do when talking to references is ask them yes-or-no questions. Open-ended questions like, “How did this person handle adversity?” can provide much more information.

At LTI, we regularly perform reference checks for our client companies to provide them with the information they need to make intelligent hiring decisions. If your company is currently looking to outsource some aspect of its hiring process, please contact us today.