On Recruiter.com, Kazim Ladimeji posted an excellent article titled “The 10 Big Mistakes in Employee Reference Checking,” where he points out the 10 most crucial mistakes that employers are making when checking employee references. You can read the original post or our summary here. Either way, this is a “must read.”
1) Reference checking is often considered a formality, but it shouldn’t be. In fact, a 2012 survey by CareerBuilder showed that 80% of employers said they check references, and 69% said they’ve changed their minds after speaking to a reference.
2) As noted in #1 above, 20% of employers do not check references at all. Of those that do, 29% of employers have found a fake reference in a job application.
3) Employers should not accept references from people that the prospective employee has not been professionally accountable to. Instead, references should be requested from managers or employees to whom the job candidate reported.
4) Employers aren’t cross-referencing recommendations. With the widespread use of social media sites like Linked In, this is a fairly easy step to take.
5) Employers shouldn’t, however, rely on social media as the main resource for references.
6) Employers aren’t asking for a job candidate’s approval to check his or her social media profiles. This is not just common courtesy, but it is important because the information found on sites like Facebook may not have been posted by the job candidate. They could be taken out of context or may not even be true statements.
7) Using generic reference-checking questions does not elicit specific feedback. Employers should ask about the employee’s ability to perform certain tasks or to behave in a certain way. Specific data is much more useful than vague generalizations when making hiring decisions.
8) Employers fail to ask for multiple ways to contact a reference. Some references will prefer a face-to-face discussion via Skype, an email or a phone call. By selecting the reference’s preferred communication method, a reference may be more inclined to give more candid feedback.
[Bonus tip from MyHealthRecruiter.com: how you communicate with a reference may depend on the type of position you are filling. If you are hiring a CEO/CFO/CIO candidate, a face-to-face, Skype chat or phone discussion is preferable to an email.]
9) Employers don’t always take the reference information in context with the other information gathered. Employers should evaluate the reference data in relation to other facts learned about the candidate. Is it relevant? Is it consistent? Is there a personality conflict driving a negative review?
10) Automatically dismissing a job candidate because of a bad reference could be a mistake. A job candidate may have good qualities that offset the specific concern and ignores areas that might be overcome through training or discussion.
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Thanks for reading!