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What is a Proper Reference Check? It’s amazing the number of times we are contacted by a prospective client to exit a new employee (not found by us) only to find that the references were not checked or were checked but it was “just a quick check”. After working in recruitment and HR for years that just makes me cringe!

We like to put all prospective candidates “through the ringer” because you can be sure that once they have been through this process they will either come out squeaky clean or any skeletons in their closet will be exposed!

What is a Proper Reference Check? Reference checks are the most important check to do in the final stages of the recruitment process.

I have been contacted as a referee numerous times in the past and I am always surprised when I get “do you have a couple of minutes to do a quick reference check?”. There it is again … “quick reference check”. If I have managed someone for close to 5 years surely they would want to spend more than a couple of minutes finding out a bit more about this person? Especially considering they are about to hire them!

Will they come out squeaky clean or the skeletons in their closet be exposed?

Will they come out squeaky clean or will the skeletons in their closet be exposed?

The other amusing way I have been contacted to undertake a check is by email “Could you please fire me though a couple of sentences outlining what they were like” … Really? Don’t you want to know more about them – like if I would re-employ them, how they coped under pressure, what they were like as a team player, how they dealt with conflict and the list goes on!

I would NEVER employ someone after a 2 minute “chat”, in fact, I really don’t enjoy employing staff in my own business! If there is one tiny thing I cannot put my finger on or have a funny ‘gut feel’ about the prospective employee I will pull the plug! Truly! I have seen good people go to someone else but I know that there was something that made me walk away.

If you want to remind yourself of the cost of a bad hire check out our calculator on our website INSERT LINK HERE.

Here are some tips on reference checking:

  • Speak to at LEAST two previous managers not co-workers. How would co-workers know what their actual and budget were? They wouldn’t have dealt with any of those courageous conversations you may need to have with staff at times.
  • We spend at least 20-30 minutes on every reference check. We have a two-page form which we go through and ask any additional questions that are relevant to a particular role.
  • ALWAYS ask if they would re-employ them.
  • Ask if they had a lot of time off work.
  • Double check dates on the CV and application form to what the referee says and also what the key achievements were when they were employed.
    Final tip… Don’t ever put words in their mouths.

Hopefully the next time you undertake your reference check you would have spent a couple of hours putting a template together which you can use for every employee!

Don’t forget, this is really your last chance to get to the bottom of anything that has been missed to this point. Candidates can be very good at pulling the wool over your eyes and if this is not what you do all day everyday then perhaps delegate it out to the experts!

What is a Proper Reference Check?

Book a complimentary 15 minute consultation now with our Director, Tanya Gray.