Reference Checking – Are you Getting the Real Picture?

When employers have identified a candidate for a job, how many employers are getting an in-depth, real picture on the candidate from the reference checking process, rather than making a decision based on what they see on the surface?

Employers, when a candidate for a job provides you with their list of referees, do you simply focus on those referees they have provided, or do you ask the candidate for permission to contact others who may be more relevant?

No candidate is going to provide you with the details of a referee who will provide a less than positive reference. Therefore it is up to the recruiting employer to ensure they speak with the most relevant parties possible. Obviously if a candidate is currently employed, a prospective employer is not likely to be able to speak with the candidate’s present manager without jeopardising the candidate’s current employment. However, with previous employment, prospective employers should refer back to their interview notes when they asked the candidate who did they report to in that role, what was their position, what was their name etc. If the person the candidate mentioned in the interview is different to who they have nominated as a referee from that business, challenge it by asking the candidate why was their manager from their last role not nominated as a referee. In some instances, there can be a very logical explanation, but in others, it can identify a red flag which may need to be investigated. Here is where I would be asking the job candidate for their permission to contact their manager from their last position, the same person who the candidate had spoken about in the interview. Some candidates may show some hesitancy with this, particularly if there is concern that something negative could come out, however most candidates will give their permission here.

Obviously at the end of the day, it is a prospective employer’s priority to ensure a candidate’s current employment is not jeopardised as part of the reference checking process. However, in the absence of talking with a candidate’s current employer, prospective employers can still maintain control of the reference checking process by talking to all other key people who need to be spoken with.

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