Staffing Resources


Do Your Homework: Why You Should Always Contact References

December 9th, 2016

“Checking references is a waste of time.” We’re shocked at how often this statement is made by managers and HR reps. When you are looking to hire a new employee, there is no way to get all the information you need to make a decision just based on their resume or interview. Especially because most job seekers these days are well-prepared and know how to give answers that make them look good. Checking references can tell you an applicant’s real story – if you do it right.

References Can Tell You a Candidate’s Negative Traits

It is a widely held urban myth that giving a negative reference is illegal. This is one reason why some people think there is no point to checking references. But the fact is, as long as everything said is true, it is perfectly legal for a past employer to give you negative feedback about an applicant. Even if they don’t say anything incriminating, the way they answer your questions – or the awkward silences where they don’t have an answer – can give you a lot of information about their true feelings towards the person.

It’s Okay to Call People Other Than Listed References

You do not have to stick with the three or four names that the applicant has listed as a reference. Aside from their current employer, it is perfectly acceptable to call any of the candidate’s past managers, even if they weren’t specifically listed as a reference. This can often give you better information than calling the people whom the candidate knows will say nice things about them.

Do More Than Ask Yes/No Questions

In order to get a real idea of the candidate, you have to ask the right kind of questions. Ask questions that require a detailed answer. Rather than asking “Is this person punctual?” ask “How often was this person late during the time they worked for you?” Precise questions require precise answers, which makes it hard for references to sugarcoat any potential red flags.

Saved by the Reference Check

Interviews are easy. All a job-seeker has to do is Google “How to answer the top interview questions” and they can formulate a winning response to any question you’re likely to ask. Passing a reference check is not that simple, especially if the hiring manager uses the above tips to get the real “dirt” on the candidate. It may take some effort, but there is no good reason to skip a reference check. Even if the new employee is only a temporary worker, check their references first to ensure you aren’t about to hire a walking disaster! If you don’t have time to do all this yourself, try using temporary agencies in Atlanta, like Staffing Resources. We’ll do the homework for you, with criminal background investigations, education and employment verification, and more!

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