When you like everything you hear from a potential new hire, checking references can seem like a hassle. Your gut feeling says the candidate isn’t lying, so shouldn’t you just believe them? No. In today’s job market candidates have perfected the ability to fabricate details about their past employment and experience. A thorough reference check can be the difference between hiring a great employee and hiring a fraud. Here are three common reference check mistakes to avoid during your hiring process.
Not Checking at All
The number of companies that don’t check references is absurd. Why would you pass up the opportunity to talk to a previous employer and get the run down on someone you will potential invest in? Given the state of the world, it is more important than ever to carefully check the references of every candidate you’re considering. The five minutes that it takes to pick up the phone or send an email can save you a lot of time and money in the long run by keeping you from making a bad hire.
Asking Leading Questions
Another mistake hiring managers often make is not asking the right questions during reference checks. If you ask leading questions that require yes or no answers, you won’t get much information about the candidate. Former employers aren’t going to go out of their way to elaborate on the person’s performance. Instead, you should be asking open-ended questions, as well as relevant follow-up questions. For example, if a reference says Jim was the best employee they ever had, take the initiative to ask, “Do you mind telling me how his performance was so exceptional?”
Checking Too Late in the Process
Many hiring managers make the mistake of having reference checks be the last hurdle in the hiring process. This means that they’ve already invested time in multiple interviews and have become attached to a candidate. If the references don’t turn out positive, one of two things happens: They ignore the reference and hire the candidate anyway, or they’re upset because they have to start the hiring process over. Instead, check references after the first in-person interview. This will make sure there are no red flags or experience gaps before continuing to the next step in the hiring process.
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