When it comes to hiring, reference checks are an absolute must in any employer’s arsenal. They can help you get behind the candidate mask and uncover any red flags before making a hiring decision. But what’s the best way to go about them?

Here are some tips to help you:

Conduct at least two, preferably three.

As one of Phoenix’s top staffing agencies, PrideStaff knows that reference checks take time. But it’s important to conduct at least two on each candidate and preferably three. These references should be from those who have previously managed the candidate, not from co-workers, friends or family. That way, you’ll get a better sense of how easy they are to supervise, as well as of their skills, abilities and accomplishments.

Create a script and structure.

Just as you wouldn’t wing it during an interview with a candidate, make sure you properly prepare for reference checks. This includes outlining a structure for how the conversation should flow, as well as creating a basic script with questions. Whatever you do, don’t conduct reference checks via email. You want to be able to gauge a reference’s authentic reactions and responses, and that’s much easier to do over the phone or in person.

Ask good questions.

Ask the right questions to get a true sense of the candidate’s abilities. These should include questions about the candidate’s responsibilities when they worked with the reference. They should also include questions that help you gauge technical skill level, as well as soft skills like communication and teamwork.

Just avoid asking questions that elicit “yes” and “no” responses. So instead of asking if Peter was a good worker, ask for some examples of Peter’s performance level on the job and whether the reference giver would hire him again if given the chance.

Also, make sure you close the conversation with a question that makes sure your bases are covered, such as: “Is there anything I didn’t ask you about the candidate that you’d like me to know?”

Don’t ask illegal questions.

You can’t ask a candidate about their religion or marital status. Likewise, don’t ask their references, either. If you do – and you wind up not hiring the candidate – you could wind up in legal hot water if they find out. Instead, stick to questions about employment history, skills and qualifications, and personality.

Take notes.

During your conversation, make sure you take notes so you can reference them during the decision-making process, as well as better compare candidates.

If you don’t have enough time or resources to devote to careful reference checks, or the hiring process in general, give the experts at PrideStaff a call.

As one of Phoenix’s top staffing agencies, we can handle the hiring process for you, start to finish. Not only that, but we can make hiring easier and more effective, as well as give you access to higher quality candidates. To learn more, contact PrideStaff today.


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