Roy Maurer writes in the SHRM blog post “Reference Check Checkup” that it is important to assess your reference checking process to make sure that you and your hiring managers are “asking good questions – and talking to the right people.” In the post, he gives advice from number of HR experts and includes a list of fundamentals that you should be sure your process includes, for example:

  • Questions should relate to the skills that will be required for the job. This will not only net the most useful information, it’s also so you’re in compliance with EEOC laws. Just like in interviews, questions cannot unfairly discriminate based on criteria that is unrelated to the job.
  • Ask behavioral-based questions that will provide more than a “yes” or “no” response from a reference.
  • You should speak to at least three references, but more is better.
  • It’s a best practice, and also better for compliance to ask the same questions to all references and across all candidates so you can compare responses across all candidates equally.
  • Ask references for a candidate’s top strengths and where they could improve.
  • Use information you receive from references to circle back in interviews and glean even more insight from the candidates.

“Reference checking is one of the most important steps in the hiring process, because it’s usually the only part of the process that involves people other than the candidate [who] can offer pointed, behavioral-specific feedback,” said Ray Bixler, CEO of SkillSurvey in the post.

Read what other experts have to say on the SHRM blog post “Reference Check Checkup.”

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