An important aspect of the recruiting process that needs additional attention is candidate reference checking. Some employment agencies and hiring managers do not put adequate thought into the reference checking process and it is extremely important in identifying quality candidates.
First, ask candidates to provide a list of who they want to be contacted rather than only asking for their last 2-3 managers. By not directly asking for managers, you’ll notice it’s more often on a reference call where they will rave about the candidate.
Second, does the reference call really change the outcome of a hiring decision? I asked around to get some thoughts from my colleagues with other firms and out of 10 conversations, only one said it had changed their decision on whether to hire or not to hire. Very few of the colleagues I spoke with could provide me with a real world example of how a reference check changed the outcome of their decision.
Lastly, most companies do not have the same reference check policy. Some companies operate under a very strict policy, which prohibits their employees from giving a former employee a reference or restricts the types of answers to be given during reference checks. However, in the staffing community, these policies have never stopped a good recruiter from getting a reference when one is needed. A lot of companies have strict policies, but they are unaware of their employees activities and really don’t have a good way of enforcing the policy.
So, what’s my opinion on references?
I think professional references are very important, but only if you talk with the right person. Should you base your hiring decision on what his/her friend or close colleague says and ignore your initial concerns during the candidate’s interview? No, I don’t think you should. I also believe that candidates need to be more prepared to share professional references and to understand how important it is to provide reference information during the hiring process. If you know your previous company’s policy is that your manager is not allowed to provide you with a reference, make sure you have accurate contact information for the HR Dept so your new employer can call and at least verify dates of employment and your eligibility for re-hire. Also, keep in mind… just because you decide to take your dream job or you are separated from a position, this doesn’t mean that you aren’t eligible for re-hire (and I’m speaking from personal experience).
I believe that references should be solicited by the interviewer. This way you can identify concerns in the interview process. It’s important to ask about colleagues and managers that the candidate has worked with and have them tell you about current situations. If it sounds like they worked with this person on a daily basis, it’s relevant for you to ask them if you can call him/her and if they would provide the candidate with a good reference.
References should be a key factor in any company’s hiring process, so it makes sense for any hiring manager to want to personally check references. I know most companies don’t operate under this type of policy, and normally a thirdparty checks references, but when the candidate is working directly for you and is someone you will be managing, it’s important for you to communicate with the reference so you can address any concerns. Plus, you get to talk with the actual person that previously managed the candidate you are thinking about hiring as part of your team.
How do you check references at your company? Is it a streamlined process, do you allow your managers to check them themselves, or do you even check them at all? When do you ask for references, and do you do this at the interview stage or at the end when you already know you want the person on your team?
By: Mindy Brockman - Senior Technical Recruiter at BravoTECH
With over ten years of experience, Mindy brings a deep understanding of the technical industry to her role as Senior Technical Recruiter. Mindy’s area of focus is based on a variety of IT specialties and positions that include: Network Administrator, Engineer, Architect, Manager, System Administrator, Engineer, QA Analyst, Engineer, Manager, Business Analyst, Database Developer, Project Manager, Technical Writer, .NET Developer, Java Developer, Technical Recruiter, Help Desk & Desktop Support Technical Professionals. Prior to her role at BravoTECH, Mindy was an onsite recruiter for Adecco Employment Services. What makes her stand out as a recruiter is her dedication, integrity, responsiveness, and commitment to delivering qualified candidates. Outside of work Mindy enjoys scrap-booking, spending time with her family, and is a very competitive Fantasy Football player. To contact Mindy, email email@example.com.