What is the best way to go about checking references? In our March 2013 issue of the “Hot Tips Newsletter” we presented some recommended hiring techniques and interview questions: (Read that article here).
As a follow up to that article I am going to touch base on the importance of checking references and some specific questions to ask when doing so.
Checking references is an important action in the hiring process and an often neglected part of investigating an applicant. This is not always an easy process as many employers have become “gun-shy” of giving out opinions about a past employee, especially if the opinion is not favorable. The proliferation of employment litigation has led to this reluctance. Even with that possible concern, one should still attempt to do reference checks on any candidate that you are considering.
The ideal scenario is to check references prior to any one-on-one interview you are going to do as you may uncover some information that will eliminate that candidate and save you interview time. If that’s not possible, then check references after the interview and before hiring.
Here are some questions you might ask:
• How long was “candidate’s name” employed by you or your company?
• Can you tell me his/her ending wage?
• Why is he/she no longer employed there?
• Was he/she a loyal employee?
• Was he/she dependable?
• Do you feel he/she is honest?
• Would you rehire this person?
• If you were to develop a self improvement program for this person, what areas would it cover?
Again, a past employer may not be willing to answer some of these questions. The key question which will give you an idea of the person’s worth is the answer to the question, “Would you rehire this person?” This question is important to ask if the reference person is very guarded or hesitant in giving answers. The question about a self improvement program will also sometimes work in a guarded situation.
This is just one example of a key step in the hiring process that will give one the best odds of hiring a top-notch employee. There are many other steps that we recommend that are covered in other articles in this issue and previous issues of The Practice Solution, as well as in some of our Hot Tips newsletters. If you diligently follow the recommended steps you will find those key, quality employees you’re looking for.