What’s been debated, outsourced, digitalised and recorded… but in the end come full circle?
Yes, the answer is those essential in depth candidate Reference Checks that have stood the test of time.
Talking with my colleagues and clients, we all agree they form part of the recruitment process that demands more than a nod and a tick for due diligence. Thorough reference checking is due diligence and meets some tick the box compliance needs, but more than that, it’s a gold plated step on the path to finding out more about a candidate, such as areas for development once on-boarded with your organisation.
Here are my 3 ‘Insider Tips’ as a seasoned ‘Referencer’:
- Asking for references from your candidate
Do it at the start of the recruitment process – it will give you an indication of how serious the candidate is about the position. At interview I cross-check to verify the referee names and ensure that those provided are direct managers – if not, I’ll ask why. If a candidate is hesitant to provide referee details, it could be a red flag. Without referees there’s also a high possibility the candidate will withdraw from the process.
- Ask for the referees you want, not the friendliest manager/colleague they want to give
Don’t settle just for first named referees as candidates tend to provide referees who they know will say good things about them. Obtaining in-depth information is important and can be challenging so make sure you ask to reference them with their last manager, not their last ‘friend’ at work.
- Conducting the reference check
Ideally I conduct reference checks over the phone or even face-to-face. At Slade we give referees the opportunity to provide detailed information, as opposed to collecting graded responses (yes, no, good, ok etc. don’t tell us very much). It’s important the referee isn’t rushed and is able to talk about the candidate at length. This conversation often takes 15 – 30minutes and you’ll be looking to confirm and complement the information gleaned from earlier candidate interviews.
References are an ideal time to get clarification on any question marks about a candidate. In addition to standard reference questions about past performance, we gather insight into how best to induct the new employee into the organisation, as well as key areas of focus when managing the new hire.
I’ll ask follow-up and probing questions to uncover the full story, counter any bias, and provide all the information to make the best hiring decision possible.
References are a gift, not a bore!
What have you learned from reference checking? Have you changed your approach to references recently?