References – The How, What and Why?
A simple guide to job reference checks during the recruitment process.
References are taken to gain additional insight into a job candidate’s past job performance, work habits, and character. It provides them with valuable information about the candidate’s strengths, weaknesses, and fit for the company culture and position. This information can also help the company make a more informed hiring decision, reduce the risk of hiring the wrong person, and ensure that the new hire is a good match for the role and the team.
Often the final stage of the recruitment process, reference checks provide: –
Ideally from different organisations. If the first two are vague, further references may be requested.
When choosing referees, it’s best to select individuals who can speak to your skills, experience, and character in a positive and credible manner. Some good options include:
It’s important to ask for permission before listing someone as a reference and to make sure they are comfortable with it. You should also provide your referees with a copy of your resume and a brief description of the position you are applying for, so they are prepared to speak to your qualifications.
Do not put your referee details in your CV and only provide the details to a recruiter when you have or are about to receive an offer for a specific role. Ideally, an offer will be made “subject to suitable references”. This provides comfort that your referees are not being bombarded by reference requests unnecessarily. Additionally it expediates the process as the candidate can review the offer while the recruiter contacts the reference.
When recruiters ask to take a reference, ask them how they will take it (see below), who will be taking it, and how long they expect it to take.
There are two main ways recruiters take references:
Many recruiters and organisations use a portal system which sends the referee a link to a portal and asks them to input their answers which can be a lengthy, and tedious process – I am the referee for numerous former Dovetail interns and complete them regularly. I groan each time I see one. It is a lazy way to take a reference.
Done by having a prearranged call with the referee and asking questions over the phone. The benefit of the process is that further questions can be asked to qualify answers. The details of the phone call are transcribed and sent to the prospective employer.
The potential employer decides who should take the reference, however it often falls to the recruiter. I strongly recommend that the future manager of the candidate should be involved in the reference process. You can often get years of insight from a past manager and save significant amount of time with onboarding, expediate integration and adjust your management style to best manage the person.
Here’s a sample of the type of questions asked.
We adapt our reference process to suit our clients’ requirements. We try and make the process as painless and effective as possible. Typically, we take references by phone call or video conference, taking approximately 20 minutes. When we call your referee (preferably someone you have reported to such as a supervisor or manager) we ask them a series of 14 questions.
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