“Reference checks are a standard part of the hiring process in most of the companies” according to
Society for Human Resource Management, a global association that represents around 2, 50,000 HR
professionals in more than 140 countries. The quality hiring ensures that the companies have near-zero
firing rate. For that, reference checks are as prominent as other factors that contribute to the hiring of
How good references make all the difference?
Most companies are limited to asking 1-2 references from the interviewing candidate. Either they don’t
call those references at all or would ask basic employment details of the candidate from them. Treating
reference checks as a mere formality might bring adversity on the way or even might cause a disaster for
your business. Imagine an unstable resentful computer programmer wielding his keyboard as a weapon
for sabotaging your company.
As per the report by Society, 55% companies conduct references to “diminish legal liability for negligent
hiring”. By inquiring right references using a comprehensive set of questions, you can get insights into
the performance, work ethics, behavior, strengths and weaknesses of the candidates.
Here is a real life example by Joe Carroll, who runs Human Resource at IST Management Services Inc. (an
Atlanta based facilities management firm founded in 1997). Carroll emphasizes particularly on the type
of questions that can help extracting more information about the candidate’s weaknesses and strengths
than just his employment dates, job title, duties etc.
He asks the references “Can you describe the applicant’s work ethic?” and “What concerns would you
have about hiring this person?”
What is the importance of reference checks if these don’t help unveil strong negative as well as positive
aspects of a candidate’s professional ethics? It would be a sheer waste of time to conduct reference
checks just to confirm the basic employment details of the applicant.
On a survey report by Inc., a well-known magazine, 1000 HR professionals from companies with
employee-strength more than 20 have confirmed that one of five candidates is disqualified from
considerations after reference checks. That means if you do hiring without checking references, there is
a risk of hiring up to 20% wrong candidates.
Easier ways to check references
Businesses performing reference checks without following a strong strategy lack quality and consistency
in the process. Here are some ways that make reference checks easier. Read on to know how these
work well to get capable candidates on board.
1. Ask for supervisors’ details
You can call the individual’s previous boss to make a start. But you can certainly get more relevant
information from the past supervisors. Ask for the contact numbers and names of all the supervisors
of the candidate during past 5 years.
2. Extract more names for references
It is better if you don’t confine yourself to the names that candidate mentions on the application.
Candidates have prepped the references in advance of their close ones like friends and family.
Therefore, try to extract more names in the interview and make note of them. Tell the candidate that
you may call these references.
3. Ask for a critical referee
It’s less likely that candidate provides a reference that may censure him. Tell him that you would like to
hear all sides before making a final hiring decision. Ask from the candidate for a name or two that can
give critical feedback on him.
Challenges in Reference Checks
Efficiency is not a matter of chance but practice! And you must practice well to combat all the challenges
that come your way during reference checks. It’s difficult to reach right references and getting trusted
responses from them. The recruiters have to show patience and consistency throughout the process and
gather the info to represent it well for further considerations by the hiring managers.
To make reference checks easier and fast, it’s wise to use a ready-made solution. TeleReference is a
coherent, cost-effective solution that offers features like video reference checks, reminders, recording
and more. Click here to see more in detail.