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Why You Need to Check References When Hiring

In Hiring Strategy — by Noel Diem

Hiring the right candidate can be a daunting task for an HR leader. Once you find the right candidate for hiring, you need to check references, complete a background check, connect with professional references, and go through your entire hiring process for your final candidate. It can take a lot of time!
You want to make sure that you are bringing on board someone who not only has the necessary skills but also fits in with your company culture. Just because someone may be a good fit for a particular job title, that does not mean they are the right fit for the job.

One way to ensure this is by checking references. While it may seem unnecessary, checking references can provide invaluable insight into a candidate’s work ethic, personality, and experience. It can also help prevent a hiring mistake!

In this blog post, we’ll review why employment reference checks are so necessary and how to do them effectively. So let’s dive in!

The Importance of Checking References

Checking references is an essential step in the hiring process. It can provide valuable information you may not have discovered during the interview. A resume and cover letter only tell part of a candidate’s story, but talking to their previous employers can give you a better idea of what they are like as an employee. Background checks will only cover so much as well. Particularly, a background check may cover legal matters, but they still don’t tell you about things like a cultural fit.

In addition, checking references shows candidates that your company takes hiring seriously. If a candidate knows that you will contact their former employers, it may encourage them to be more honest during the interview process. It also pays off to know that your potential hire is honest – reference checking can often reveal people who lie. This is a red flag that may indicate something strange.

Furthermore, checking references can help prevent costly mistakes down the road. Hiring someone who isn’t a good fit for your company culture or doesn’t have the necessary skills could result in high turnover rates and lost productivity. A professional reference doesn’t always have to be a manager or a coworker either. For younger hires, it may be a college professor, a group leader, or someone they’ve interned with in college.
You may have to change the way you ask a particular question, depending on who the reference is.

Ultimately, checking references is worth it if it means finding a qualified candidate who will contribute positively to your team.

How to Check References

When it comes to checking references, you should follow a few key steps. First, contact the candidate’s provided references via email or phone call. It’s essential that you speak with the reference directly rather than just leaving a message.

Once you have them on the phone, introduce yourself and explain your role in the hiring process. Ask if they have a few minutes to share their experience working with the candidate.

Prepare specific questions that relate to the job responsibilities and skills required for this position. This can help guide your conversation and ensure you gather helpful information.

During the call, take detailed notes on what is said about the candidate’s performance, work ethic, attitude towards coworkers/customers, and any other relevant factors.

Be sure also to ask whether or not they would rehire this person, as well as their overall thoughts on why this individual would be a good fit for your company culture.

Don’t forget to thank them for taking time out of their day to provide feedback for the reference check.

What to Look for When Checking References

When checking references, it’s important to remember that you’re not just looking for confirmation that the candidate has the skills and experience they claim. You also want to understand how they work with others, their work ethic, and whether they’ll be a good fit for your company culture. So many people forget this as part of the hiring process, and they make a mistake in offering employment to someone who will end up hurting the organization.

One thing to look for when checking references is consistency. Do the things the reference says match what the candidate told you? If there are discrepancies or inconsistencies between what different people say about the candidate, it could be cause for concern. Employment reference checks should 

Another thing to pay attention to is tone. Is the reference enthusiastic about working with this person again? Or do they seem lukewarm or even negative in their assessment? How someone talks about a former colleague can tell you a lot about their opinion of them. Your applicant will likely pick a past employer, a current supervisor, or a coworker, but be sure to ask probing questions.

You should also ask specific questions related to your company’s needs. For example, if teamwork is important in your workplace, ask references specifically how well this person works on teams. If punctuality is crucial, ask whether this person was consistently on time. Use the professional reference check as a way to not only get verification about what you’re been told, but to get a feel for the candidate from that prior employer. How they answer may very well inform your hiring decision.

When checking references, don’t simply go through the motions – really listen and try to get a sense of who this person is beyond just their resume.

Red Flags When Checking References

When checking references during the hiring process, it’s important to look for any red flags. These could indicate that the candidate is not suitable for the role or may have misrepresented themselves.

One common red flag is when a reference seems hesitant or unwilling to provide information about the candidate. This could suggest that they have nothing positive to say or are uncomfortable talking about their experience with them.

Another potential warning sign is if a reference provides vague or evasive answers to your questions. If you’re not getting specific details about the candidate’s skills, work ethic, and performance, it could mean that they weren’t as impressive as initially thought.

Inconsistencies between what the candidate has told you and what their references are saying can also be cause for concern. Pay attention if there are significant discrepancies in job titles, responsibilities, dates of employment, or reasons for leaving previous positions.

Be wary of references who give overly glowing recommendations without providing concrete examples of why they think so highly of the candidate. It’s possible that they’re simply trying to help out a friend rather than giving an honest assessment of their capabilities.

By keeping these red flags in mind when checking references during your hiring process, you’ll be better equipped to make informed decisions about whether a particular candidate is right for your organization.

Ready to Take Your Hiring to the Next Level?

Checking references is an essential part of the hiring process that should never be overlooked. It can help you make informed decisions and avoid costly mistakes in the long run. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can check references effectively and efficiently. But that isn’t the only part of your process that needs to be efficient! Trakstar Hire can help streamline the candidate pipeline to ensure you get the most out of every job opening.

Click here to schedule a demo.

Remember to always do your due diligence when it comes to checking references by asking relevant questions and looking for red flags. This will ensure that you hire the right candidate who will contribute positively to your organization.

So, if you’re currently hiring or planning to hire soon, don’t forget to add reference checks to your list of tasks. The time and effort spent on this step could save you from potential headaches down the line.

Trakstar Hire is considered the most user friendly hiring software on the market. If you’re ready to take your recruiting and hiring to the next level, request a Trakstar Hire demo today.

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