The ONE Reason You Should Be Carrying Out Reference Checks

Wed, 27 Jul 2016Hiring Process, Reference Checking

In the next 500 words, I’m going to give you the only reason you’ll ever need to hear to carry out reference checks. If you hate checking references, I think I can change your mind and even make you excited about carrying them out!

Firstly, how do many people view reference checks? As a pointless waste of time. After all, who would supply a bad reference? And what referee, properly prepared, is going to give you a bad reference? Especially if HR have warned about the risk of a defamation case being raised if they do say anything untoward?

After pre-screening candidates, two rounds of interviews, skills testing and background checks – what more can reference checks really tell you?

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Forget that we’re talking about reference checking for a minute. Imagine you’re hiring a freelance web developer … you’d never think twice about doing reference checks on a freelancer.

So you request a list of people to contact for a work reference. The freelancer happily provides two people to contact: the CEO of a similar-sized business and an IT manager in a growing company.

The freelancer lets their contacts know you’re going to contact them and the reason for the call.

You contact the CEO first and ask about their business, the CEO’s experience and you connect on a professional level. Of course, you ask some questions about how the freelancer works and what you need to know to get the best out of her. The CEO gives some insight and you say farewell – asking if it would be OK to add them to your LinkedIn network.

Then, you contact the IT manager and again ask about the business and his experience. This time, you ask a little about the technical support the freelancer might need, or any people management tips that might be relevant. At the back of your mind you realise this person might be useful for a project in 6 months’ time, so you ask if you can connect with them.

Having made your two calls, you’re now happy the freelancer is able to perform and you have two new contacts in your network. You speak to your sales guys and ask them to look for new opportunities with these new contacts and tell them to direct any ideas through you.

“How many other times in business do you get an introduction to decision makers in other organisations, with job titles and phone numbers and a willingness to take your call?”

Now go back and replace ‘freelancer’ in this article with ‘candidate’.

Ask yourself this: how many other times in business do you get an introduction to decision makers in other organisations, with job titles and phone numbers and a willingness to take your call?

Now think about reference checks again. Should you really leave them to HR or to a recruitment agency? Or would they be better off carried out by a peer of those referees? CEO to CEO, Manager to Manager?

Reference checking every hire will expand your network with quality contacts and present new business opportunities you’d never have had otherwise.

If you’d like to read up on the right way to check a reference, check out these 9 reference check questions for guaranteed hiring success.

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Farid Oudjane
CEO & Founder at Hireday
Farid enjoys writing about recruitment, technology and updates to Hireday.
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