What to Look out for in Pre-Employment Reference Checks | Sarina Russo

What to Look out for in Pre-Employment Reference Checks
By Sarina Russo Editorial Team

Reference checks are an essential part of the recruitment process, and according to a survey released by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 92% of organisations conduct them when hiring new employees.¹

In most instances, it’s also the break or makes information that management uses to decide on whether to employ the candidate or not.

Follow these five tips and gain fresh insight to help you find the best employee for your team.

1. Observe their reaction to your call

A good candidate will have requested their referee's permission and made them aware of their application. If a referee responds professionally and confidently, you know they are a reliable source of information, and your candidate has prepared well. Alternatively, if they are blasé about the process or are surprised by your call, a red flag should go up immediately.

2. Check the referee’s position and role

The professional status of the referee and their relationship with your candidate can greatly influence the information they give you. Did they work closely together? Or was the referee in a different department? How much did they interact during the candidate’s period of employment?

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3. Assess their enthusiasm

The tone of voice a referee carries speaks volumes about their relationship with the candidate. Is the referee enthusiastic and eager to sing the praises of them, or are they guarded and reserved in their descriptions?

4. Seek a well-rounded opinion about the candidate's employment

A good referee will speak of a candidate's strengths and weaknesses. Ask for their opinion about the candidate's suitability for the position, and don't be afraid to dig deeper if you need more details.

5. Ask them if they have any extra comments

Once you have asked your questions and gathered enough information, be sure to ask the referee for any additional comments or thoughts about the candidate. This will reinforce the referee's opinion and pinpoint the personal and professional qualities the candidate would bring to your team.


[1] SHRM: Employers Slow to Pick Up Trend of Continuous Screening, Retrieved on 23 September 2021, from https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/talent-acquisition/pages/shrm-trend-continuous-background-screening.aspx

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