Tips for Conducting Effective Reference Checks

As a Houston recruitment firm, we know that reference checks are critical to successful hiring. However, sometimes they can be a bit of a challenge due to a variety of factors. For instance, many Houston employers – and employers around the U.S. – will only give out basic information, such as the person’s name, title, and dates he or she was employed with the company. Of course, it’s important to verify this information, but you need more to make a good hiring decision.

That said, even when an employer is willing to give out additional details, they may, in many cases, only highlight the candidate’s positive attributes and downplay the negative ones. As a result, you’re not really getting a true sense of the candidate.

So what can you do to conduct more effective reference checks and get the information you need about a potential hire? Here are some tips:

Always ask the basics, first.

These are easy questions to answer, plus they’ll serve as a good ice breaker:

  • How long did you work with the candidate?
  • What position did he or she hold?
  • What were his or her responsibilities in that position?
  • How would you describe your work relationship?

Ask some unexpected questions.

To get honest answers about the job candidate, you should also ask some surprise questions, such as:

  • Did the candidate call you to ask whether he or she could use you as a reference?
  • Would you hire/work with the candidate again?
  • How did the candidate handle stressful situations?
  • What were his or her strengths and weaknesses?

Ask the same questions of all references.

In order to compare the candidates you’re considering hiring, you need to ask all their references the same set of questions so that you can compare apples to apples.

Only ask legal questions.

The rule of thumb is that if a question is illegal to ask during a job interview, then it’s most likely illegal to ask during a reference check. If a reference starts talking about such topics like the candidate’s disability or religious affiliation, then bring the conversation back to the candidate’s job related skills and qualifications.

If you’d like help conducting thorough reference checks, please contact Murray Resources. As a leading Houston recruitment firm, we have the experience and knowledge to conduct effective reference checks and help ensure you get only qualified candidates.