Using references correctly to hire

If you are going through the recruitment process, I can’t stress the importance of using references to support you in making the right decision. I often find many hiring managers like to use references to help validate a decision that has essentially already been made. In instances where references are used to support hiring managers in the decision making process, I have regularly seen hiring manager’s preferred candidate change based on feedback that comes out of the references.

Following are some key tips to watch out for when completing references:

1.   Make sure you are talking to the direct line manager and not a work colleague. It should be you directing who you want to talk to rather than responding to who the candidate would like you to call.

2.    Don’t call the referee through their mobile but rather the company’s main number wherever possible. This helps to ensure the person is actually employed by the business. Only a few months ago, a lovely candidate’s mother pretended to be two different people from different companies. Fortunately the Consultant who was taking the references picked up on it and the truth came out. Yes, this is a true story.

3.    If you need to call a referee via a mobile, it may be worth doing some research to confirm they actually worked in the role claimed.  Only last week I took an excellent reference on a candidate from a referee who I was led to believe was a Manager. After talking to another line manager and verifying the referee’s details on LinkedIn, I quickly learned the referee was actually a colleague and had never worked in a management role.

4.   Ensure you verify the candidate’s length of employment with the employer and watch out for unexplained gaps. As you can imagine, being an accounting recruitment specialist, we are regularly seeing the same resumes coming up in the market.  I am constantly amazed at how often I see resumes that look quite solid in terms of length of employment in roles when I know from past history that there are often multiple roles that have just disappeared from the resume.

5.    Use the referee to validate the candidate’s role and level of responsibility against their resume. It is not unheard of that candidates will embellish their skills on their resume or in interview. It is also extremely useful to get behind someone’s capabilities. Some candidates might be phenomenal performers in a role but are not strong at selling themselves in interview. It is sadly all too common that excellent candidates get overlooked in interview because they aren’t the strongest at selling themselves.

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