July 2nd, 2012
There are three parts to the hiring process – the resume review, the actual interview and the reference check. Out of these three, the reference check is the one that is the most undervalued and the most likely to be skipped. This is because many hiring managers think that reference checking is truly a perfunctory exercise – something only to be done to check off a box – since candidates will never provide bad references.
Most companies underestimate the amount of information that can be obtained from a reference check, but questions must be asked carefully and attention needs to be paid to the answers given. You are not just looking for things that will rule out a candidate, but for insight/information on a candidate that cannot be gained from any of the other steps in the hiring process.
Remember, when new hires do not succeed at a new job, it is not because of their skills or their experience. It is because of the intangibles (work ethic, ability to get along with others, abilty to make deadlines, etc. ) that they bring to the table, but that are so very difficult to identify during the rest of the hiring process.
Getting this information is not easy. It requires skill and practice, because (the truth is) most references are loyal to the candidate. Even when the person was less than an ideal worker, most references will paint a rosier picture of their work habits – for a myriad of reasons.
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