Should the recruitment process start with reference checks??


Should the recruitment process start with reference checks?? - 2020 - Wattsnext Group

Should the recruitment process start with reference checks??

I asked myself this question after having experienced some frustrating recruitment scenarios in recent months!  The quandary is, what happens when you have gone through the timely process of reviewing, shortlisting and interviewing thinking you have the perfect candidate only to have the reference checks tell you you’re wrong?!

So, doesn’t it make more sense to do reference checks first? Wouldn’t it be more efficient to find out how they perform and if they will fit the organisational culture. Even better, would be to find out how they are best managed from someone who has actually worked with them? A resume can look great on paper, the candidate can tell you exactly what you want to hear but they cannot control all that is said by a reference no matter how close they might be.
A recruitment survey conducted by HRD Australia recently found that 71% of candidates are exploiting flaws in the traditional reference checking process.

Food for thought.

Could you use an automated reference checking service before the interview to better leverage feedback? Would this enable you to ask more effective questions during the interview process? Could you also use this information during the on-boarding process? Sharing both positive and developmental feedback from their previous managers would certainly be beneficial during this process.

“What happens when your reference checks go bad or even worse rogue!?”

If the thought process of doing reference checks first is too radical, then let me give you a number of best practice methods we use at wattsnext for reference checking:

  1. Ensure referees are current, preferably the two most recent employers.
  2. Referees should be someone who the candidates report directly not a work colleague or manager from another division for example.
  3. Accurately verifying the individual on the end of a personal email address utilising company websites, LinkedIn etc.
  4. Ensuring you have an appropriate number of timely responses from suitable sources.
  5. Delivering consistent questions that will help clients make an informed hiring decision.
  6. Guaranteeing you provide your client with a real, unbiased view of a referee’s answers.
  7. Offering a secure and compliant method of gathering, storing and using referencing data.
  8. Utilise these best practice methods and your well on your way to achieving awesome recruitment outcomes. Reference checks are an important part of a quality recruitment process. It gives you the opportunity to validate the rationale to hire a candidate and provide further assurance to the client that they have picked the perfect client.

So, to all the forward thinking HR Managers for the Modern World, get onto it. If nothing else, spending 15 minutes talking to a line manager gives you the opportunity to ask whether you can assist with any of their recruitment needs.
Remember Simplicity sticks, Complexity rejects #HR rocks! #HRfortheModernWorld

Photo by Nikita Kachanovsky


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Wattsnext Group is a compilation of ideas and expertise from the entire team, past and present with a few added gems from guest authors from time to time. With this collaborative approach, you'll get a broader perspective and high-level of expertise across the HR landscape


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