After reviewing applications, conducting interviews, and performing background checks, you may feel like you have all the information you need about a candidate. However, you should still take reference checks seriously. Don’t underestimate the information you can glean when talking with your candidate’s former coworkers and supervisors. When choosing the next employee to join your company, you want as much reliable feedback as you can get. Reference checks offer personal knowledge of a candidate’s skills, personality, and work ethic that can prove invaluable when making the final decision of your hiring process. You can learn more about the benefits of reference checks and why they should be a part of your screening process with this overview.
Verifying Candidate Information
Anyone can find your job posting and submit a résumé and application, but that doesn’t mean the information they tell you is true. In fact, exaggerating or outright lying about skills on your résumé is an all too common part of the current job market. Think of reference checks as an additional form of education and employment verification. If someone is embellishing their experiences and qualifications on their résumé, you might be able to learn differently from their references. It’s important to cross-verify your candidate’s information with multiple references. Previous supervisors will be able to give you an honest summary of your candidate’s background. Not only will this process keep you from hiring someone who can’t perform the job, but it will also catch candidates who lie on their applications. This will help you avoid hiring dishonest employees who probably aren’t a good fit to work for and represent your business.
See Credentials in Context
It’s hard to judge how an applicant will truly perform in your company when they’re just a list of good traits on paper. Talking to references can put a candidate’s information in perspective. You can hear about their real-life experiences and how they put their skills and qualifications to work in a professional setting. Your candidate’s references will be able to share information about how that individual performs in their role and as a team member. When you compare this information alongside what you’ve learned through phone calls and interviews with your candidate, you can get a better idea of what they’ll actually be like on the job.
Learn About Soft Skills
Some skills either don’t fit on a résumé or don’t mean much until you see them in practice. Anyone can call themselves a motivated, creative problem-solver who works well in groups. However, it’s hard to determine whether this is true until you spend time with the individual. Speaking to references means speaking to people who have seen your candidate in action. They’ll be able to give you a clearer idea of these and other soft skills the applicant may possess. Is a candidate easy-going and flexible? Do they have a strong work ethic? What kind of work environments do they thrive in? These types of skill sets are often difficult to judge based on someone’s credentials and the impression they give in an interview. Previous coworkers and supervisors can offer a clearer picture of what skills your candidate brings to the job.
Find a Personality Match
Your employees’ personalities are just as important as their qualifications, especially if you value a collaborative and fulfilling company culture. Like soft skills, personality is difficult to judge based on the application and interview process. You often have to simply wait and see how someone performs in a role and with their team after you hire them. However, reference checks can attest to both positive and negative elements of a potential employee’s personality. During the hiring process, you should always consider how someone will fit in with your company’s culture. References can offer firsthand reports and help you make a decision that benefits both you and your existing employees.
Comparing Two Candidates
The job market offers no shortage of competition. If you find yourself late in the hiring process with multiple candidates who seem perfect for the role, reference checks are a great way to help you finalize your decision. All of the benefits listed above—such as finding false information or learning about how your candidate fits into the company culture—might make one person stand out among the rest. The information, experience, and recommendations reference checks provide can be incredibly helpful when determining which of your top candidates is truly the best fit.
Due Diligence in Your Hiring Process
The benefits of reference checks extend beyond your final hiring decision. When you add reference checks to your employee screening process, you ensure you’re doing everything you can to make an informed hiring decision. This is both a safety issue and a legal matter. Skipping a reference check might mean skipping crucial information about a candidate, which can lead to you hiring someone who is unsafe for your employees, profits, and reputation. However, if you go through all the steps of a thorough hiring process—including reference checks—and don’t find a reason to disqualify that candidate, you know you did everything you could. This step of the screening process provides peace of mind as well as a solid defense in the case of a negligent hiring claim or other lawsuit.
Be Careful With Candidate Information
As with all aspects of the background check process, it’s important not to make snap decisions with the information you find. Remember that the references you consult are also people. Your candidate has likely listed references who will give glowing reviews about their performance and qualifications. At the same time, you might come across a reference who has only negative feedback to give about your candidate. Either way, you have to consider the fact that these references might have personal biases or experiences that make their information subjective rather than objective. As you document information from these reference checks, make sure you take it with a grain of salt. Consider these reviews alongside the rest of the candidate’s information and your own impressions of the individual.
When you want to find reliable information about your job candidates, you can turn to PSI Background Screening. Whether you’re looking for an outstanding screening service or a third-party verification company, we have the resources and experience necessary to keep your future and present employees’ information safe.