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The right way to check references before hiring employees

Posted by Scott Fiore on January 10, 2018

When companies make a bad hire, it can cost a lot of time and money to correct the situation. Many of these bad hires could be avoided simply by checking references of potential employees. But, for reference checks to yield valuable information, managers should know the process to follow and the right questions to ask of their job candidates.

Considering the cost you might incur as the result of a poor hiring decision, you may want to engage a recruiting agency to assist with interviewing and hiring, including reference checks. If you go it alone, however, here’s how to talk with people who know the candidates, and make the best use of your time with them.

Discuss references with job candidates during the interview process

Ask candidates for six references and their consent to contact them. Call all of them for each finalist.

In addition to talking with former supervisors, you should contact former colleagues or subordinates for some hires. If so, ask job candidates for names of people to contact.

Be thorough and objective when you call to check employee references

When you call, assure the references that their comments will remain confidential. Explain the position and skills required. Show objectivity throughout each call—don’t sway their responses with positive or negative comments. Pay close attention to what the references are saying, and take notes.

Ask specific, open-ended questions to learn as much as possible. Inquire as to similar work performed by the candidates at the references’ companies and the outcomes. Verify significant claims made by candidates, such as responsibilities, people supervised and compensation.  Ask how the candidates could improve their work performance and if the references would hire them again. You might want to ask about candidates’ work attendance, too.

Most times, reference checks will reassure you that you have chosen the right candidates as finalists. However, you may learn key pieces of information that will cause you to reconsider a candidate or to rank one finalist above the others.

Could you benefit from assistance with job recruiting or hiring employees?

At TriStarr, we can help you screen candidates by doing background checks, providing personality/behavioral assessments and conducting initial interviews. Our recruiters and employment specialists can assist you, whether you must fill a full-time position or need temporary administrative staffing or professional staffing services.

The team of professionals at our recruiting/temp staffing agency and HR consulting firm truly enjoys what they do for our clients: finding the best candidates and hiring the most qualified temporary employees.

That’s why we are willing to compare our performance record with that of any of our competitors by offering our Good People Guarantee. If a client isn’t completely satisfied with a full-time or temporary recruit, we will replace the person with another candidate at no cost or provide a refund.

TriStarr is a professional temp and employment agency in Lancaster, Pa., also serving Harrisburg, York, Lebanon and Reading. Contact us online, or give us a call at (717) 560-2111.