Are Reference Checks important?

You’ve interviewed several candidates and feel as though you have found the perfect person for the job. Do you even need to bother with reference checks? Unless you have worked with the person in the past or have vast knowledge of them as an individual and as an employee, I would suggest yes. Typically, reference checks will confirm that the candidate is the right person for the job. If that’s the case, perfect. However, there are times that the information you receive may have you thinking twice about hiring the candidate. Let’s face it, a lot of people can make it through an interview without raising any red flags. However, speaking to a current (or former) manager or colleague can provide valuable insight into the candidate’s work style, interpersonal behaviour, etc. Even if the information you receive isn’t a deal breaker, it may be helpful from a training or coaching perspective. For example, maybe the individual is a great collaborator but also has the tendency to “take over” meetings. This is good information to know, as it may help you to develop strategies to manage these situations and/or will give you a head start on potential growth opportunities for the employee. In order to reduce the risk against false references (being providing with good or bad information that isn’t reflective of the candidate’s performance), it’s best to speak with more than one individual. For example, speaking with a current or past supervisor — along with a current colleague — may be helpful. Normally, you should find consistency with the information that is provided by multiple references.

In circumstances where the information provided by a reference would make you re-evaluate your decision to hire the candidate, taking the 10 or 15 minutes to check a reference could save you a lot of time and money on a bad hire. And in those cases where references confirm the positive vibe that you got from the candidate, you’ll have that much more confidence that you made the right decision when you offer the candidate the job!

Next time, we’ll focus on a few tips for getting the most out of your reference checks.

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