References checks are one of the most important parts of the hiring process. Through them, you can find out the strengths candidates have exhibited in the past. You can also be alerted to any problem areas in the past that might negatively impact their job performance in the future.

It can be tempting to do reference checks quickly, especially if there is urgency in filling the job. But it’s important to go through all the necessary steps.

Here is a rundown of the crucial steps required to properly perform a reference check.

  1. Explain the job to the reference so they have clear background on the position

Don’t assume that the reference has a clear picture of the position. Perhaps the candidate has applied for a very different job than she held in past positions, or has gone back to skills she didn’t need in the position where she knew the reference.

It’s important to dispel any unclarity, so don’t leave it to the reference to make assumptions about what the position is, or what it entails.

  1. Seek input from other colleagues

While it’s important to contact the references the job candidate supplied, it is also important to seek input from other colleagues who know them. It enlarges your perspective of how the candidate has performed in the past.

Explore LinkedIn and other business networks to see who you know who has worked with or knows the candidate. Reach out to them to get a fully comprehensive picture of their performance and fit for your company.

  1. Be specific

Align the needs of the job with the feedback you receive from the candidate’s references. There’s one sure way to do that: Be very specific about what you ask.

It’s a good idea to review the job posting and any hiring manager feedback before touching base with references. Pull out what the most important qualifications and skills are for the position. Are you looking for leadership skills, for example? Attention to detail? A robust team player?

Once you determine which qualifications and skills are the most important, ask for feedback about them specifically.

Ask open-ended questions, not questions that can be answered with a “yes” or “no.” If you’re looking for leadership skills, for example, the question might be something like “how would you describe x’s leadership skills?”

It’s also important to ask questions about potential negatives, as well as positives. You shouldn’t expect negatives, but it is part of the vetting process to probe to see if there are any. Ask open-ended questions here, as well.

Conduct the reference check by telephone if at all possible. Email answers can become very generic and non-specific. Also, if there are any negative areas, people are reluctant to convey them in an email.

A Staffing Agency to Fulfill Your Needs

Graham Staffing Services will be happy to help you with any needs related to hiring. We are pros at performing background checks, vetting candidates, and more. We can help your human resources department and let all your departments be optimized for maximum service. We’re here to help. Contact us today. And if you’re looking for work, apply with us.