Reference checks are a critical part of the candidate selection process. By speaking with individuals who have interacted with the candidate in a professional capacity, you gain insights into their job performance.

However, a reference check is only effective if you ask the proper questions to the right people. If you don’t cover the three primary audiences, you may miss a crucial detail that could indicate a candidate isn’t the right match for the role, leading to a poor hiring decision.

Obtaining useful references and performing a comprehensive check may seem daunting, particularly since you do not have full control over the reference information the candidate provides and what the reference is willing to disclose. In reality, it is possible to increase the odds if you have access to the proper mix of references.

Securing the Right References

While many companies only ask for three references, that approach can be limiting. It creates an opportunity for the candidate to be highly selective on whose contact information they provide, and they often favor those that will speak positively of them.

Additionally, by requiring only three references, there is a chance you won’t receive information on contacts that are part of the three distinct audiences. Ideally, you need to speak with current or former bosses, peers, and customers or subordinates. If you do, you can get a well-rounded picture of how the candidate performs in a broader range of capacities.

Instead of requesting only three references, make it six. Additionally, require that two be current or former bosses, two be peers, and the final two be either customers or subordinates depending on the nature of the candidate’s previous roles or that of the open position. When you conduct reference checks, you’ll learn how the candidate interacts with each of these essential groups, allowing you to better discern whether they are suitable for the role in a wider capacity.

Preparing Questions in Advance

Before you contact a reference, have five to seven questions prepared that can help you gather the details you need to make a smart hiring decision. Additionally, craft a quick overview of the role you are trying to fill, giving you the ability to share that information with the references to provide them with an idea of what the position entails, making it easier to address questions about the candidate’s fit.

While you need to cater the questions to the role, a few options that are universally applicable include:

  • Can you describe your working relationship with this individual?
  • What makes the person a good fit for our position?
  • Tell me what it is like to work with this individual based on your personal experience.
  • What do you feel is most critical to successfully managing this person?
  • Is there anything else I need to know about the individual that hasn’t already been discussed?

As the reference answers your questions, actively listen to their responses so you can spot any potential red flags or comments that could necessitate additional follow-up questions. Further, make sure to take notes, ensuring you have the ability to review the details should the need arise.

Ultimately, reference checks are a critical part of the candidate selection process. By following the tips above, you can make sure you cover the three main audiences and get the details you need to make a smart hiring decision.

If you would like to learn more, WorldBridge Partners can help your company create stronger teams with top-tier associates. Contact us to learn more about The WorldBridge Way and how we can provide you with the skilled professionals you require quickly and efficiently.