4 tips about dealing with reference checks


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With a labor market in flux, particularly in hard-to-hire industries, it is likely to be tempting to chuck asking for references out the window. However for many recruiters, particularly those that search out managerial and govt candidates, they’re nonetheless a necessity — even when most references are going to sing the praises of the candidate.

HR Dive spoke to Kristen Fowler, vice chairman and observe lead at Clarke Caniff Strategic Search, about her expertise with references, and finest practices for when and methods to verify them within the present recruiting atmosphere.

Ask later within the course of

Don’t discuss to references proper out of the gate, Fowler advises. As a substitute, she tends to attend till later into the hiring course of to contact references. That method, nobody’s time is being wasted if a candidate isn’t proper for the position. “We don’t need to be bothering references when a person received’t be an excellent match anyway,” she stated. As a substitute, wait till the “level within the course of the place you’re feeling assured that that is a person who could possibly be becoming a member of your group.”

She additionally tells the candidate once they’re about to contact references, so the candidate can provide these folks a heads up. That’s particularly vital now given how typically individuals are contacted by telemarketers and ignore calls. “Most individuals let telephone calls undergo to voicemail,” she stated. If a reference doesn’t reply, she then tries an e mail to arrange a time to speak. If that doesn’t work both? She’ll ask the candidate for an additional reference.

Take references with a grain of salt

As necessary as references are, they make up a small portion of the general analysis of a possible candidate, Fowler stated. That’s as a result of the references are self-selected. These aren’t background checks. They’re chats with individuals who will most probably sing somebody’s praises.

It’s extraordinarily uncommon {that a} candidate will embody somebody who doesn’t like them — uncommon sufficient that Fowler has solely seen it as soon as in her profession. (She’s additionally by no means had anybody make up a reference both, she added.) The interview course of offers a significantly better thought of who somebody is, and in the event that they’re a proper match for the position, she added. “These are going to be higher instruments” within the analysis course of, she stated.

Attempt to discuss to 3 completely different folks

As a substitute of asking for any three references, she prefers to have somebody who the candidate reported to, a piece peer, and somebody who reported to the candidate. “It offers you a full 360-degree view of their work type,” she stated.

Fowler additionally recommends having a look at a candidate’s digital footprint, which might flip up issues about them {that a} recruiter wouldn’t hear from a reference — good or unhealthy. Doing so “can provide some good insights into the candidate,” she stated, together with social media and any earlier media interviews. “What message are they placing on the market into the online, and the universe? It can provide you a greater really feel for the candidate that you just’re hiring,” she stated.

References aren’t obligatory — or potential — for everybody

Whereas references are commonplace for many staff, particularly mid- to executive-level candidates, they’re not at all times obligatory or useful when hiring for entry-level and junior positions. It’s not that these roles aren’t necessary, however typical candidates for these jobs are both younger or don’t have a whole lot of work expertise, or connections, who a recruiter might discuss to.

They haven’t “essentially had sufficient tenure constructed up underneath their belt at their earlier group to the purpose the place they’ve a pipeline of people that they’ll name for references,” she stated.

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