According to a survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management, 76% of organizations conduct reference checks on all job candidates. The majority of employers reported verifying former employment, employment dates, job titles, degrees, job responsibilities, and any licenses and certifications.
Reference checking can be difficult and time-consuming. Even if you have a clearly defined process for checking references, it takes time and effort. Worst of all, these reference checks often lead to little useful and actionable information. Instead of getting valuable insights into potential employees, hiring managers end up spending hours engaging in pleasant yet wasteful small talk with former employers.
So what can you do to streamline this process, cut through all of the wasted time and obtain great information on job applicants?
The following are just a few strategies that might help speed up your reference checking process:
1. Have a Standardized System for Checking ReferencesOne reason reference checks often take so long is that employers fail to utilize a standardized system. Having a consistent format for your reference interviews will save you time and make it easier to compare different candidates when making your hiring decision.
Start by creating a list of basic questions that you will ask each reference that will confirm details from the candidate's resume and application including such things as job titles, but also confirming the relationship with the candidate.
In addition to these basic background questions, come up with a list of about five queries designed to garner insight into each candidate's character, talents, reputation and strengths.
Some examples of questions you might ask include:
- What do you think is the candidate’s greatest strengths as an employee?
- What was the candidate’s greatest success in their role at your company?
- Is there anything else I should consider before hiring this candidate?
2. Consider Automating the Reference Check ProcessNo matter what you do, checking references manually is going to take some time. One way to hasten hiring is to consider outsourcing certain aspects of the process. Automated reference checking allows hiring managers to collect a large amount of information from references in a relatively short period. Candidates simply inform their references that they need to access an online link to complete a standardized questionnaire.
This offers benefits for recruiters, references and job candidates. Recruiters can eliminate the wasted time chasing down references and chatting on the phone. References will certainly appreciate being able to give feedback at their own schedule and convenience. Job candidates can also feel assured that their references had the opportunity to provide information to potential employers.
While reference checking is often thought of as an arduous procedure, there are things that you can do to make it easier. If you truly want to eliminate the hassle of contacting references by phone, consider automated reference checking.
3. Make the Reference Checking SoonerWhen you have to check references the process will understandably take some time. If you do it at the tail end of the process, it can slow down your entire recruiting process. If you take advantage of the automated step, described in #2, now because it takes so little time, you can consider to run it sooner in the process.
Of course, contacting references and gathering information on the final candidates still takes time but it will be a fraction of what a manual process requires. For many companies, performing reference checks is one of the very last steps in the hiring process and usually precedes making an offer. It has been that way because it was time consuming to do it, if it is not, thanks to automation, you can change when you do it.
What are some other ways to speed up the reference checking process?