“I’ve found that when you want to know the truth about someone that someone is probably the last person you should ask.” – Dr. Greg House
Ever wary of trusting anyone, House would appreciate the next crucial step in the process, which can shed some light onto the candidate.
Speaking with a candidate’s references is not just to determine an applicant’s weaknesses, but to gain insight into the candidate’s personality, work style and ethics. References should add to the snapshot you’re creating of the candidate.
To get the most out of your reference calls:
Speak with a variety of contacts – A peer, manager and perhaps a direct report will help you get a perspective on the candidate from different view points.
- Get the facts – Confirm dates, position title and responsibilities. Get qualitative information to gain insight into the candidate’s work style. How does the person work with others? Are they a team player or lone ranger?
- Listen – People will often reveal a great deal about someone if you ask an open ended question and just listen. Include inquiries into skill level, professionalism, strengths and weaknesses, and other points that are relevant to your position.
- Know the law – You must always get permission from the candidate to speak with their references. Be sure you understand the EEOC guidelines for conducting a reference check as well.