There was a time when I would speak with people and they would say that reference checking was the best way to screen candidates, but not anymore. Fear of legal action and low compliance from participants reap poor results. Therefore, their judgment is based on reference checks performed that led to poor results, so they are convinced about their stance.
I would challenge this position and say that indeed poorly executed reference checks are a waste of time, but the Reference Check 2.0, as we call it at Checkster, is as good if not better than structured interviews. In order to prove it this, let’s look at this body of evidence.
- Harvard Business Review article on the assessment of best practices in which the authors said, “Poor practice: Conducting inadequate (or no) reference checks. Best practice: Conducting detailed reference checks.” I also recommend listening to their 14 min podcast here, where at minute 9:11 and 12:40 they explain the aforementioned point.
-Leading books on recruiting methods such as Topgrading, a well known and respected method for recruiting, is fundamentally based on two core methods: the interview process and a proper reference check. Lou Adler’s “Hire with your head” Performance based hiring said it simply: “Here’s a basic rule about reference checking: that’s not 100 percent true, but you should follow it (perform it) 100 percent of the time.”
- If you question HR practitioners and want to get more validation from business people, watch Marissa Mayer, V.P. of Search Product and User Experience at Google here in an interview and at minute 42:10 answer this question: “When you are hiring new people [at Google], is there an X factor that you are looking for?“ She replies: “ We did a regression test on what was the best predictor of performance with the interview score, the references, their background,… and we basically found that their background and references are the best predictors…”. Watch for yourself here.
- If you are in a startup watch this one.
You may find this to be all nice and good, but may simply not have the time to do it. I would challenge your view and say that you simply can’t afford not to do it. With the Reference check 2.0 you can perform a very powerful online version of the reference check by taking only 2 minutes of your time. Listen to the feedback of some of our users here. In short, reference checking went through a disillusion period for many when they had to find new ways to get to the truth. Now with the help of social networking and online automation, there is no reason not to perform it anymore.