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Job reference checks: avoiding pitfalls in the job reference check process


Job reference checks: avoiding pitfalls in the job reference check processJob reference checks may seem like old hat to some hiring managers. After all, job reference checks tend to be done at the last minute, after an employer has already decided on a candidate. But, by incorporating reference checks into earlier parts of the interview process and planning ahead, it’s possible to avoid making a poor hiring decision.

Tips for checking references
Make the effort. No matter how great a prospective employee seems, follow up with references. You may discover that the prospective hire has been less than truthful.

Use reference checks mid-way through the hiring process. By asking references about a potential hire’s skills and experience, you can vet the results of behavioural interviews and better focus on competency-based hiring.

Check past managers. Note that many candidates will not want their current employer to know they’re looking for work. However, if the candidate will agree, see if you can use their existing manager as a reference.

Work around “no reference” policies. Many companies have policies against providing references. They will usually confirm that the person worked there, the dates they worked and the job title. Many companies will not provide information on salaries or reasons the employee left. You may be able to ask them to verify information you provide. For example, you could say, “Susan says she made $35,000 a year plus a 10% bonus. Do your records reflect that?”

Try contacting other people at the same company. Contact the manager, the manager’s manager, HR or even co-workers for references.

Verify letters provided by candidates. Contact the person who wrote the letter. Make sure the applicant didn’t write it.

Complete the process. If criminal history, driving experience or credit matter, be sure to check all references.

Reference checks can help you avoid costly hiring mistakes. Be sure to set aside enough time to do the process justice.

Related to job reference checks:
Interviewing potential employees
Avoiding interview pitfalls
Reference checks


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