Hiring the right person for an open position with your company is an involved process that takes time to accomplish. It’s important not to rush through any of the steps. Not only do you have to carefully interview applicants, but you have to thoroughly check their references. It may be tempting to settle for surface-level answers to your questions, or skip a couple of hard-to-reach former employers on the list, but this would be a mistake. Rating candidate performance by speaking to past supervisors and managers gives you extremely valuable information that you need to know before hiring.
Don’t Be in Too Big of a Hurry
In today’s busy, rapid-paced work environment, it may be tempting to speed through background checks when rating candidate performance. Of course you want to fill a vacant job slot, but hiring the wrong person to save time can cost you plenty over the long haul. Slow down and perform reference checks to confirm dates of employment, education, job history, and gather insight about an applicant’s strengths and weaknesses.
Be Aware of Red Flags
As you’re moving through an applicant’s resume and list of former bosses, take note of gaps in job history or unclear mentions of self-employment. Of course, people may have taken time away from the world of work for perfectly legitimate reasons, but be sure everything lines up. It’s also important to make sure the names of references listed as supervisors and employees align with company websites and directories. These contacts can be faked, especially in the digital age, so do your homework before making phone calls.
Build Rapport With References
In rating candidate performance with a potential employee’s past employers, it’s beneficial to develop rapport with each person you contact. Instead of just asking questions from a checklist, plan to hold a conversation that allows the two of you to connect as fellow managers. By opening up a bit about yourself and your company, the applicant’s former supervisor will be more likely to give you behind-the-scenes details about the applicant. It’s fine to start with a list of questions, but plan to expand on each one.
Ask Questions About Their Answers
Instead of just accepting rote answers to your questions, ask references to give a bit more explanation. For example, if the former manager states that the individual was a leader in his or her department, ask for some concrete examples of the employee leading his or her team. Ideally, the manager should be able to give you two or three off the top of his or her head. If not, you’ll have to press further to see if the boss’s praise might have been fluff.
Phrase Questions to Align With Skill Needs
Make sure you ask questions related to the skills required for the job you’re hiring for. For example, if you are interviewing to hire a person to organize your office, inquire about the candidate’s organizational abilities. You might want to ask, ïCan you give me examples of this person’s orderliness or ability to organize projects?ï or ïI’m looking for a team player who can organize major projects. Do you think your former employee is the right person for this position?ï
Listen for Hesitations
Even on the telephone, you can tell plenty by paying attention to a reference’s demeanor and tone. Listen for enthusiasm and