you check references before hiring new employees? If your company
is like most, the answer is "No." Caveat Emptor! Buyer
Beware! Some job candidates who are eagerly vying for a limited
number of jobs in this recession-plagued economy may knowingly exaggerate
their credentials and experience in an effort to stand out above
checking will also give you added assurance that the intuitive sense
that you have about a candidate's abilities to successfully perform
in the position is well-founded.
checking is absolutely essential to verify a candidate's background.
Combined with proper interviewing techniques, reference checking
should give you added assurance that the intuitive sense that you
have about a candidate's abilities to successfully perform in the
position is well-founded.
a candidate's references should, at a minimum, involve a factual
investigation of education and employment. When checking with educational
institutions ask for the records department and provide the candidate's
social security number. Simply request the year the candidate attended
classes and the graduation date.
of employment dates and job titles can be obtained by contacting
the Human Resources department (or personnel director) of the previous
employer(s). Don't expect Human Resources departments to provide
much more information about the candidate other than what can be
verified in the employment record.
based on a former employer's past perceptions of the candidate's
performance, can also be used to predict how this person will perform
people who are actually willing to take time to thoughtfully answer
questions based on their own experiences with the candidate is not
always easy. Many have been advised by their personnel or legal
departments to be spartan with comments that are subjective in nature.
Try anyway! Sometimes what isn't said is enough said!
you have determined a candidate to be well-qualified for your position,
request a list of references from the candidate. This list should
include the names of former supervisors, not friends or co-workers.
Let the candidate know that you will be contacting his or her references.
is a list of Ten Critical Questions To Ask When Checking References.
you begin, modify and/or add to this list depending on your particular
job opening. Make certain that all of your questions relate to the
position for which you are hiring, and that you follow the same
procedure for every candidate. In order to obtain an objective reference,
try to keep your perceptions to yourself. Before implementing any
hiring procedure, including reference checking, please consult with
begin, advise the person from whom the reference is sought of your
objectives. In other words, identify yourself and your company.
State that you are seriously considering the candidate for employment
and that you would like to ask a few questions to validate your
perceptions about the candidate's qualifications. Ask whether this
is a good time to engage in a discussion or whether you should call
back at a more convenient time. If the person is agreeable, proceed
with your questions.
What were the responsibilities of the position the candidate had
while working at your company?
question will help you to compare and verify the position that the
reference is describing, with the description that was given to
you by the candidate.
asking the next question, offer the reference a brief but specific
description of the position the candidate is being considered for.
Focus on the three top-priority responsibilities to enable the reference
to provide specific feedback on each.
Do you think the candidate is qualified to assume these responsibilities?
Why or why not?
The reference will probably offer specific characteristics about
the candidate that lead him/her to believe that the candidate could
effectively assume the role. If the reference simply responds by
affirming that, in his or her opinion, the candidate is qualified,
probe by asking, "What specific qualities or personal characteristics
cause you to feel this way?"
to asking the next question, tell the reference that you will be
responsible for managing and supporting this person in the position.
You are, therefore, interested to know what management style the
candidate responds best to. Then ask:
How would you describe your management style?
probe to discover what specific management behaviors the candidate
responds well to -- and compare differences in your management style
from the one being described that may make a difference in how you
interact with this employee.
How did the candidate perform with regard to________?
dimensions of job performance you feel are important should be inserted
here. Questions relating to the quality of work, the ability to
handle pressure or willingness to take the initiative or skill-related
questions such as organizational or communication skills should
be asked at this time.
Is this person a team player or does he or she excel by working
teamwork is highly regarded by most companies, a person who is more
independently directed may be what your position calls for. Determine,
based on your assessment of the job, whether an interactive or independent
work style is important for success -- and regardless of the answer,
probe to determine whether the candidate demonstrated respect for
other employees' contributions and a willingness to consider others'
What was the candidate's attendance record? Was the candidate on-time
is appropriate attendance at one company may be cause for dismissal
at another. Be sensitive to extenuating circumstances that may have
contributed to poor work attendance, such as illness or family problems.
What you are attempting to determine by asking this question is
whether this candidate assumed responsibility to show up for work
and on time.
What areas of development were communicated to the candidate and
how did he or she respond?
question is a good way to get information regarding performance
weaknesses that may not have otherwise been volunteered by the reference.
Listen carefully as the reference describes how the candidate responded
to performance improvement needs and direction.
What are the candidate's three strongest qualities?
may have received various direct and indirect responses to this
question but by asking it at the end of the conversation, you provide
the reference with an opportunity to highlight the characteristics
that stand out in terms of the candidate's past performance.
What was the candidate's reason for leaving the position?
question should verify the reasons that the candidate provided for
leaving his or her past job during the interview. The reason a candidate
leaves a position can also help you in determining whether your
position will give the candidate what he or she is looking for in
a new position.
Would you rehire this candidate?
This final question is a defining one. Based upon the response and
your evaluation of the other information provided by the reference,
this will help you answer your most critical question,
I HIRE THIS CANDIDATE?"