Reference Checks- Are They Still Relevant?

Is there a need for reference checks?
I’ve met with a number of business owners and employers who are asking if reference checks are still worth it or relevant.
The information received from a reference check is directly related to the selection criteria of the role that the candidate has applied for and allows us to validate or confirm the information given to us by the candidate during the interview:
“I was just looking for growth so I resigned”, with no job to go to? That is a slight red flag if you ask me.
Referencing allows us to identify these ‘grey areas’ from the candidate’s CV or from the interview such as their reason for leaving and periods of unemployment.
It’s frightening to think you could rely on a 45 minute – 1 hour interview to determine whether you offer this candidate full time employment where they will spend 45 hours a week, dedicating their time to their job.
Let’s face it, past poor performance or faulty reasons for leaving come out in the wash eventually.
“Hire slow and fire fast” Cindy Norcott – Recruitment Agency business owner for over 25 years.

At which stage do we reference check?
There are candidates out there who look great on paper but not as great during the interview. But there are also candidates who interview like a ninja! And once they are on the job it’s a different story altogether. CV’s can be attractive, and it’s even possible to become a ‘master interviewee’ with a bit of practice.
The good news is that there is a way for you to screen, double check the candidate and insure they are who they say they are.
Before making an offer to a candidate, you should always consider carrying out two verbal reference checks. It’s an additional tool to finding out and understanding how candidates really perform on the job.

What questions should you ask?
I’ve included some questions that need to be answered with a little bit more than just Yes or No. The referee will need to elaborate and if they don’t, why aren’t they? Do they just want to get you off the phone? Do they not care much about the candidate? Was the candidate not an A player? Listen to the tone of the voice, look out for hesitation. Remember to ask if this is a good time to chat before jumping into your line of questioning.
1. Length of employment?
2. Areas to improve / weaknesses?
3. Reaction to instruction/criticism?
4. Ability to build relationships- how did he/she do this?
5. Ability to work in a team as well as independently?
6. Describe his/her personality?
7. Reason for leaving?
8. Would you re-employ and if so why? – The answer to this question can speak volumes. After all, there is a huge difference between “Um, well I guess so”, “Yes I would”, and “Hell yeah! I’d have her/him back in a heartbeat”.

Don’t forget to ask industry / vacancy specific questions as well. Would you want to hire a new sales representative who had never hit their previous sales targets?

Fake referees do exist
If the referee’s details don’t include a landline, continue to call the cell number, but do make sure to call the actual company on their landline and confirm that both the candidate and referee work / worked there, and confirm both their designations at the company. Google is your friend in this case.
You wouldn’t believe how many ‘professional’ candidates out there will provide fake referees. When a candidate is desperate to get a new job, they’ll resort to anything.

For assistance with any or all of your human resource/ recruitment needs, Pro Talent provides solutions that fit any company.
Chrissy Sibeko – Sales & Marketing and Administration recruitment specialist: