Use reference checks to prevent a hiring disaster

You’ve selected the perfect candidate; their CV is brilliant, they said all the right things during the interviews. It’s exciting. The stress of hiring is nearly over.  

But before you get ahead of yourself, it’s time to verify if they are as good as they appear and do a reference check with their previous employers. Some companies don’t bother with the reference check, BUT checking references will give you peace of mind and prevent a hiring disaster. 

Let’s say you hired someone and didn’t get around to doing the reference checks. They talked the good talk about their skills, experience and knowledge. But when they are in the door, you realise that they are completely incompetent. Now you have wasted time, resources and money. Not to mention that you will have to start the whole process again.

Previous employers don’t have to act as a referee for an employee if they don’t want to or if they weren’t invited to do so. Any reference you receive must be true, fair and accurate and not give a misleading impression of the potential new hire.

Doing references checks doesn’t have to be complicated. A reference can be verbal or written. Having a template is a simple and efficient way of getting through reference checks. Bear in mind that you are looking for the facts and to verify your potential new hires claims. A few things to consider asking:
– what the candidate’s title was
– start date & end date
– days off/sick/ holidays and general attendance
– if they had any warnings or discipline
– what tasks they completed
– if they would recommend them as an employee

Tempting as it may be to rush this process and offer the candidate the job, be patient and wait for all the references to come back to you. You never know what you might find out, and it could be a gamechanger for this hire. And remember, we are trying to avoid a hiring disaster. If you rush ahead and find that you have a dud employee on your hands, it’s going to be a lot harder to dismiss them.

Reference checks are not a mandatory part of the hiring process, but they are worthwhile. Set aside time to create a template, contact referees and review their responses. The chances are you got a good sense of the candidate from the interviews, but it’s always nice to have someone confirm it for you.

If you’re working with a recruitment agency, they will typically do the reference checks for you. You can add your questions to the reference check so that you are satisfied with the quality of the references coming your way.

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