Part of the REJS process is to conduct reference checks as part of the recruitment process for all of our candidates. The team is still amazed to hear from a minority of principals that say they have taken on a candidate for a position on the basis she or he was known to them. When we ask the question about reference checks and have they been done – the answer will normally come back … no.
Reference checking is a critical part of any recruitment process so at least make sure that you are going to perform one or two prior to making a candidate a job offer.
Here are 5 points to consider.
1. Lack of consistency
This is one of the most dangerous practices in the employment arena. There are employers who check references on some candidates and not on others. Why wouldn’t they check them all? This does not mean the scope or comprehensiveness of the check has to be the same for every level or position, but some form of reference checking, appropriate to the position, should be carried out on all candidates. It is very easy with today’s technology to be able to download a standard reference checking form of the internet and then tailor it to suit the needs of your office and your environment.
2. Making a job offer subject to a reference check
You may think that this is a good way to go, references should be checked early in the process than when many employers actually perform them. Once the top two or three candidates have been identified through resume, phone screening and initial interviews, references should be checked before any consideration is given to making a job offer. If the references confirm a candidate’s skills, experience and ability, then conduct a follow-up interview armed with that knowledge.
3. References from people who have not supervised the candidate
Employers will often incorrectly assume that the only references available to them are the ones attached to the candidate’s resume. A potential employer has every right to ask a candidate to provide a list of the types of references they want, not just the ones the candidate wants them to have. Every employer should insist candidates provide the names of at least one former direct manager, someone that the candidate reported directly to or the business owner. While that mix may not always be possible, the point is that employers should be talking with people who have actually supervised the candidate on a daily basis over the last 12 months or more.
4. Asking leading questions and failing to ask follow-up questions
Many employers only ask referees job performance questions that require nothing more than a “yes” or “no” answer. Instead of asking, “Was John a good worker?” they should ask, “How would you describe John’s on-the-job performance?” The other half of the problem is that prospective employers do not ask logical follow-up questions. If a reference says Sue was the best employee the company every had, few will take the next step and ask, “Could you tell how her performance was so extraordinary?”
5. Not doing reference checks at all!
Crazy as it may seem, some reference checking as mentioned is not done and it is and has always been part of the recruitment process and part of the role of the REJS team. In today’s market place it is more important than ever to carefully check the references of all candidates for employment.
Best of Luck – Richard at REJS