Reference Checks - Old School or Still Relevant?
Is a reference check still helpful in the recruitment process? Or, is it something we do because that’s the way we’ve always done it?
A previous workplace required employment verifications on every new hire prior to lifting the conditions on their contract of employment. The employment verification differed from a reference check in that it only asked for hard facts such as dates, job titles, and the clincher question, “Would you rehire this person?” It didn’t require the reference to provide opinions of the individual which has the ability to open up liability on the person providing the reference.
They were matter-of-fact but most of the time they were basic and without much pertinent information.
When one conducts a reference check of a potential final candidate, it is rare to hear negativity about their performance. What it often does provide is a stamp of approval on an already positive impression of a potential candidate and insight into how to help the potential candidate could be set up for success in the new organization.
An employment reference will only be as helpful as the information you ask. It can help guide your onboarding, and steer you away of potential pitfalls. Having a reference check based off of both the job description and digging into some of the hunches you already have in the interview will allow you to see a broader picture of your potential recruit.
A quality reference check will confirm the potential positive impact that an individual has on your business or assist in identifying potential risks as part of the hiring decision.
A quality reference check can:
Clean out any hidden skeletons in the closet
Accurately identify an individual’s aptitude for a technical skill set
Help you judge the individual’s fit into a certain environment or ability to work under a certain managerial style
Outline what climate the individual truly thrives in and what situations they struggle through
So, old school or relevant? If you aren’t tailoring your reference check to the individual and the job, I would say don’t bother. But if you are looking to gain valuable insight into your next potential “big star”, a reference check can help you determine if they are who they say they are, or are perhaps, just another shiny penny.
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