10 Steps to Check Candidate References

As an employer, it is vital to conduct a reference check for your new candidates. Checking candidate references is a critical part of the hiring process as it helps you to verify their educational and professional qualifications. A reference check involves contacting previous employers, supervisors, education institutions, and other entities that can enable you to learn more about a candidate’s background, skills, and experience. In this article, you will learn all about checking candidate references.

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Advantages Of Checking Candidate References

A reference check helps you to verify a candidate’s credentials. In our day and age, the advancement of technology makes it easy to forge such information. Thus, conducting a thorough reference check can have multiple benefits. Here are some of them:

1. Allows You To Know Your Candidate Better

Candidates can choose the information they wish to include or exclude in their resume. However, a reference check can provide greater insight into a candidate’s working style, performance, personality, skillset, and qualifications. You can talk to their previous employers or managers and learn more about your candidate’s real-time performance in the workplace.

2. Ensures The Protection Of The Employers And The Employees

Modern workplaces can be high-pressure environments during peak seasons. So, it is vital for employees to feel safe while working. An organisation conducting an extensive reference check for each of its hires creates a secure atmosphere that allows the employees to focus exclusively on work. A reference check can weed out candidates with undesirable social qualities who may not be ideal for your workplace.

3. Avoids Loss Of Resources

A reference check can help you to choose your employees with discernment. Knowing about a candidate’s background and skills can be critical in deciding whether they are suitable for the role they are applying for. Organisations invest considerable resources in onboarding and training their employees, alongside providing other perks and benefits. So, you will save these resources by only hiring employees well-suited for a position in your organisation. Also, you will save money on severance packages, as you are less likely to fire well-vetted employees.

4. Avoids Bad Press

In the age of social media, your company needs to maintain a positive image. Building a solid reputation for your business is a painstaking and time-consuming process. However, hiring employees without conducting a background check can put your business’s reputation at risk. Your employees are a representation of your company’s brands, and they should be hired carefully. Unvetted employees can have a history of malpractice or undesirable workplace behaviour. Such employees may cause a workplace scandal or other negative incidents that can create bad publicity for your company.

Checking candidate references can ensure you only hire individuals who are an excellent fit for your organisation’s work culture and help you maintain your company’s brand.

Disadvantages Of Checking Candidate References

While checking candidate references has some undeniable benefits, there are also some things that you need to consider:

1. References Can Be Inaccurate And Misleading

Sometimes, conducting a reference check can be counterproductive as candidates can anticipate your checking attempts and give you references that show them in a positive light. On the other hand, you could also get a misleading reference that disqualifies a potentially great candidate. So, checking candidate references can waste time and resources in such cases.

2. Candidates May Be Reluctant To Use Their Current Employer As A Reference

While the candidate’s current employer may be most suited to provide accurate feedback, candidates may not prefer to use their current employer as a reference. Most candidates choose not to let their current employers know that they are seeking employment elsewhere. So, candidates might use older references that may not accurately reflect their current skillset, personality, and performance.

3. The Current Employer May Offer A Counteroffer To The Candidate

Most employers wish to retain their employees and reduce their attrition rate, especially in the case of productive employees. So, if the current employer is contacted for a reference check, they may offer a lucrative counteroffer that the candidate could be tempted to accept. Thus, you could lose out on a potentially great employee.

So, though reference checks are an essential part of the recruitment process, you should consider these downsides before adding reference checks to your hiring strategy.

How To Check Candidate References?

Checking a candidate’s references is a challenging and protracted process. You can avail reference check services by outsourcing the task to employment verification companies, or you can do it yourself. Here are 10 steps to check candidate references:

1. Seek Input From HR

As the HR or the interview team is already considering the candidate for hiring, they will be able to inform you about any concerns regarding the candidate they might have. Thus, you will be able to fine-tune your reference check questions accordingly.

2. Verify The Candidate’s Name And Personal Information

While checking a candidate’s references, you should always confirm their name and personal information first. By reaching out to their former employees, you must also verify their job titles and dates of employment.

3. Enquire Whether The Candidate Was Successful In Fulfilling Their Job Duties

Employees are as good as their work, and this question helps you determine whether the candidate could successfully perform their job duties while working at their previous organisation.

4. Ask About The Candidate’s Relationship With The Management

Modern workplaces can get stressful, and the chain of command ensures that responsibilities are efficiently delegated to employees. So, it is vital to learn how your candidate interacts and responds to the management directives. This will help you to understand if the candidate can successfully become a valuable part of your workforce.

5. Learn About The Candidate’s Absenteeism Record At Their Previous Organisation

Punctuality and diligence are essential cornerstones of professionalism. While hiring, you must learn whether the candidate was irregular at their previous organisation, taking a lot of leaves or failing to honour their deadlines. This knowledge will help you to hire an employee who’s regular, professional, and a positive addition to your workplace.

6. Describe The Role’s Responsibilities And Ask Questions That Determine The Candidate’s Suitability For The Position

The idea behind conducting a reference check is to ascertain a candidate’s suitability for a role in your organisation. So, while interacting with previous managers, supervisors, or employers, it is best to describe the responsibilities of the position that the candidate has applied for. This way, you can gain customised feedback regarding the candidate that considers the new role’s responsibilities.

7. Have The Reference Rate And Rank The Candidate

You should prepare a list of reference check questions that allow the candidate’s reference to rate the candidate’s different aspects using a scale ranking from 1-10. For example, you can ask the reference to rate a candidate’s communication skills from 1-10.

Asking the reference to rank the candidate can provide objective feedback that can help you assess the candidate’s suitability for the role they’re applying for.

8. Learn About A Candidate’s Strengths And Weaknesses

As an employer, you should ask the reference to list the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses. If the reference answers candidly, you will be able to understand your candidate’s profile better and determine whether they are compatible with the role’s requirements.

9. Enquire Whether There Was An Instance Where The Candidate Needed To Be Disciplined

Employees need to be well-behaved and respectful while being part of a workplace. So, you must check the candidate’s disciplinary record and determine whether they ever had to be reprimanded for misbehaviour or tardiness while working for their previous organisation.

10. Ask Whether They Will Rehire The Candidate

The ultimate testimony of an employee is the legacy they leave behind. If the reference is willing to rehire the candidate, ask them their reasons for doing so. This way, you can learn about the endearing qualities of your candidate and understand what they bring to the table. However, if they are unwilling to rehire the candidate, their reasons will give you insight into the candidate’s shortcomings.

These reference check questions cover all the essential information you need about the applicant. However, you can add other questions to your list as per your organisation’s requirements.

Checking a candidate’s references has pros and cons, but it’s an invaluable process to gain insight into your employee’s past and personality. In a world where technology makes it easy to fake qualifications and references, conducting a reference check can ensure that you make the right hire for your company.

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