15 Must-Know Reference Checking Tips

For Modern Recruiters

There’s a lot riding on your next hiring decision. With all the time that it takes to confirm and reach references, you’ll want to make sure you come away with relevant, job-specific insights that help you find the best candidate.

Here are tips to help you make the most of your reference checks.

1. One is such a lonely number.

Get multiple perspectives… try to reach at least 3 references to get the full picture.

2. It’s not all about the boss.

Co-workers and subordinates can provide another great perspective (check out our research.)

3. Have structure.

Ask each reference the same questions and ask the same questions across candidates so you have feedback that you can compare.

4. Be job-specific.

Ask questions that relate specifically to the job you’re filling (it’s not just a best practice, it’s also the law!)

5. Keep it legal.

Awkward questions are well, awkward, but worse, inappropriate questions or processes that don’t treat all candidates equally may get you in hot water.

6. Focus on soft skills.

Soft skills typically make or break an employee’s success. Find out about a candidate’s interpersonal skills, value commitment, problem-solving and professionalism.

7. It’s all about past performance.

Dig into soft skills performance on the job. For example, ask if a candidate always treated others with respect, managed projects on time and communicated well with stakeholders.

8. Spot fakers.

No one should provide their mom, pop or best friend as their reference. Be sure to verify reference contact information and when references worked with the candidate.

9. Cross boundaries.

Language barriers shouldn’t get in the way of getting critical feedback. Make sure you have a process that can reach any audience.

10. Think beyond the hire.

Find what you need for onboarding. Feedback from references can help you pinpoint areas for training that can lead to better post-hire success.

11. Make it easy.

Integrating an online process within your ATS ensures reference checking is easy to do for every job candidate.

12. Use reference checks earlier.

Get insights before the onsite interviews to learn more about your candidates’ behaviors and clarify any concerns.

13. Go into interviews with a plan.

Asking all job candidates the same questions is a must. They should be job specific behavioral based questions to help your hiring managers avoid biased questions.

14. Provide hiring managers real data.

With a structured process across your candidates, you can provide detailed feedback across your candidates in a report.

15. Leave your sourcing hat on!

References can be a great source for new talent. While you’re reaching out to them, find out if they’re interested in joining your talent pool.

At SkillSurvey, we believe talent determines the success or failure of every business. With the best people in the right positions, your company can achieve amazing things. That’s why we make it quick and easy to get meaningful, predictive insights on a candidate’s past performance from their references. To see first-hand how SkillSurvey Reference can help you find the best talent for your organization, sign-up today for a free 30-day trial (no credit card required).

Check out these related resources:

12 Reasons Reference Checking Needs to Change

12 Reasons to Rethink Reference Checking Guide Related ResourceDisruptive technologies are bringing new ways of doing things — like getting a ride, or finding a place to stay. Learn 12 ways technology can transform your reference checking process into a strategic activity.

Read Guide

Take a Tour of the SkillSurvey Reference Platform

SkillSurvey Reference Scroller Related ResourceGet an inside look at the platform that’s changing the way companies hire. Access this scrolling tour to see how data-driven insight provided by references has changed the way recruiters hire.

Take Scrolling Tour