When it comes to pre-employment screening for job candidates, reference checking has fallen out of favor for many businesses.
Some argue that it adds little value to the hiring process. Smart candidates are only going to list references who will give glowing reviews. Others simply don’t have the time to chase down multiple references. It can take up to a week to complete references for a single candidate.
On top of that, fear of litigation has led more and more companies to implement a no reference policy. The policies prohibit employees from giving references on former employees or only allow them to verify job titles and dates of employment.
So is reference checking really worth your company’s time?
“Absolutely,” says ALTRES Staffing Manager Emy Yamauchi-Wong, who oversees the vetting of hundreds of job applicants every month.
“It’s one of the only times during the hiring process that you can get direct feedback from someone other than the candidate themselves,” she says.
This can be helpful given that the information supplied by candidates isn’t always accurate—nearly 85% of employers uncover lies on job applicant’s resumes and four out of five job applicants lie in interviews.
How to streamline the reference checking process
So reference checking is definitely worth your time, but how can you make the process more efficient and more effective? Here are four easy tips for streamlining the reference checking process.
1. Don’t check references until you’re ready to make a job offer
This saves everyone time. Reference checking should be the last stop before extending a job offer—the final layer of confirmation to seal the deal. Plus, asking for references too early in the process could give false hope to an applicant who may think they’re near the final selection stage.
2. Reference check everyone and use a standard format
This adds structure to the reference check process, yields comparable information, and levels the playing field for candidates who are being seriously considered for the position. Some ways to accomplish this include asking for the same number of references from everyone, keeping questions focused on job-related requirements (FYI: discrimination laws also apply to reference checking), and using a consistent evaluation criteria for all candidates.
3. Ask open-ended questions, specific to the position
Your goal should be to elicit information that will help you make a hiring decision. In other words, avoid asking yes-or-no questions. Instead, try to verify any points the candidate brought up in the interview that you thought were particularly promising in demonstrating their success in the new role. If time management is a crucial skill and the candidate recently helped launch a new product, ask the reference to elaborate on the candidate’s role in that project.
4. Make it easy for references to give feedback
If you’re strapped for time, so are reference providers. Offering options for feedback—phone call, email, video conference, online reference software—ensures a quicker response time. It can also improve the quality of the feedback you receive. Some people may be more comfortable chatting on the phone, others are better at communicating in writing. The key is to be flexible.
You might also like: Pitfalls of Backdoor Reference Checks and How to Avoid Them
Pre-screening candidates by performing reference checks is important for minimizing your risk of a bad hire. But it takes time and resources. That’s where ALTRES Staffing can help!
All of our applicants go through a rigorous process of evaluation, skills assessments, reference checks, and employment verification, before becoming candidates for your consideration. Contact us today!