How to make revealing reference calls

How to make revealing reference calls

If you are employing someone, no matter whether they are a junior marketer or a senior financial manager, it’s important to check their references before you hire them. It’s important to do reference checks to not only ensure the candidates have the skills and competencies they say they have, but also to ensure whether they will fit into your company’s culture. Here are some tips to ensure your reference calls are as insightful as they can be.

Aim for a 360-degree approach

Firstly ask the prospective candidate for the contact details of at least five people they have worked directly with. Don’t just ask for their managers, ask them to include people who reported into them and some of their peers. This will give you a more complete ‘picture’ of the person you plan to hire. Naturally, the candidate will handpick these people, but you can ask them “Why did you decide on these five people” as part of your review process.

Expect glowing reviews

As the candidate has pre-selected their references, it is natural to expect glowing reviews. If you don’t receive these, it should immediately flag a number of concerns, for example – the candidate is unaware of how people perceive him or her, or they aren’t thorough enough to pre-brief their references or they lack judgement about whom they listed.

Follow up early

Many businesses only follow up on references by the time they have decided that they would really like to recruit a certain person and they usually have held several interviews and even psychometric tests. At GG recruitment we ensure there are no disappointments when both the candidate and company are invested in each other by following up on references before the candidate and company even meet each other. By following up early, we ensure you avoid wasting time interviewing anyone who receives a bad referral.

Turn the questions around

In an effort to have an honest, rather than a pre-scripted conversation with the person who has been given as a reference, consider turning the questions around on them. Ask questions like:

  • Why do you think that the candidate has listed you as a referral?
  • Do you think the person fitted well into your company culture? What characteristics were not a good fit?
  • Tell me about a person who worked well with this candidate – what characteristics did they have, that made them a good team partner with the candidate?
  • What do you believe really motivates this candidate? What demotivates them?
  • What are this candidate’s biggest growth areas?

Ask for actual data

When you ask the reference for information, try to steer the conversation away from opinions and ask for actual data or successes that the candidate achieved.

Consider asking for “off-list” references

When you speak to someone on the list of references, ask them if they can give you the name of one or two other people that they think you should speak to in order to get a fuller picture of the candidate. These “off-list” references will often provide you with a less prepared response and these people might feel less accountable to the candidate as they haven’t been specifically asked if they can be a reference.

Work with a committed recruiter

A committed recruiter will ensure that you are only presented with candidates who have already had all their references checked and approved. At GG recruitment, we only put candidates forward for potential positions if we are confident that their references are credible and that the candidate is the right cultural fit for the company concerned. For more information about how GG recruitment can assist you with finding your ideal Finance, IT, Management or Specialist candidates, contact us today.

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