Reference checking

Definition of Reference Checking

  • Reference checking is a critical step in the recruitment process, often carried out by the HR department or hiring managers.
  • This process involves reaching out to the references provided by a candidate to verify the information given during the interview.
  • Its primarily used to confirm details about the candidate’s work history, abilities, and behaviour.

Importance of Reference Checking

  • Reference checking provides an opportunity to validate the potential employee’s information and helps ensure a competent and suitable candidate is selected.
  • It mitigates risk and reduces the chances of making a wrong hire which could be costly to the company in the long run.
  • It provides an objective insight into the candidate’s skills, capabilities and behaviour, which may not be evident from the interview alone.

Doing a Reference Check

  • Always remember to ask the candidate’s permission before reaching out to references.
  • Standard information verified includes employment dates, job titles/responsibilities, reasons for leaving, and overall job performance.
  • Assess the referee’s tone and willingness to answer. If they’re reluctant, they may not provide clear information.
  • Don’t just limit yourself to yes/no questions; ask for examples and situations that will provide a better understanding of the candidate.

Effective Reference Checking Techniques

  • Aim to speak directly with the reference rather than just relying on written feedback or email responses.
  • Ask open-ended questions, focusing on the candidate’s strengths, weaknesses, and suitability for the role.
  • Always thank the reference for their time and insights, and maintain a professional tone throughout.

Key Points to Remember

  • Reference Checking is an essential part of the selection process to verify a candidate’s skills, experience, and behaviour.
  • Properly executed, it can save the company valuable time and resources by preventing unsuitable hires.
  • Always maintain professionalism and respect when connecting with a reference and ensure to ask meaningful questions rather than a simple tick-box exercise.