How to Conduct a Truly Thorough Reference Check

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Reference checks. All employers make them, but not all employers get the most out of them. Often, they are just cursory communications, where the caller is more interested in having his or her good opinion of the candidate reinforced than anything else.

So, how can you get the most out of reference checks? Business executive Jim Roddy offers a few words of advice.

When interviewing the candidate, you should get the names of people to call who are not on the list of references the candidate has provided. This will give you an opportunity to get a more complete and unvarnished view of the candidate’s work history. It will allow you to get a more honest review of the candidate, as opposed to the good words you know the candidate’s references have prepared.

The hiring manager should take responsibility for making the reference checks, and should not delegate this work. The hiring manager is the one most knowledgeable about the requirements of the job and the kind of person needed to do the job, so the hiring manager should do the checking.

To do a good reference check, you need to take the time to ask the important questions and to probe more deeply when the circumstances warrant. Don’t assume you can dash off a quick call and get it out of the way. You need to set aside enough time to do it properly.

You need to keep an open mind when checking references. You aren’t calling just to have your opinions reinforced, but to find out information about the person that will help you make a better hiring decision.

You should also be ready to take a lot of notes. This will help you make comparisons among the different people you talk to.

You also need to come up with a list of questions to ask. It is more helpful if the questions are more specific, such as, for example, asking how the candidate works with others, or handles feedback, rather than what the reference thinks of the person. Two questions that Roddy says he always asks are why the person is no longer with the company, and where can the candidate improve?

When you need help finding great construction, architecture and engineering professionals for your Washington, DC company, call the recruiters at RealStreet Staffing. We look forward to hearing from you.

RealStreet has been an excellent partner in understanding our programs’ unique staffing requirements-skills, experience, clearances, seasonality—and consistently provides qualified and highly productive team members who are often recognized by our customers for their performance.

Cheryll Bissell

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