I would be a very wealthy individual if I were given only $10 every time an HR person told me – 1. “We don’t DO Reference Checks!” 2. “Corporate Counsel advised us Against conducting Reference Checks.” 3. “Reference Checks are a Waste of Time!”

They are advising me that they are not interested in determining if a candidate is a good Cultural Fit within their organization.

“Corporate Counsel advised us Against conducting Reference Checks.”

I love their defense using “Corporate Counsel advised us Against conducting Reference Checks.” Let us face facts. Everything your company does can create a lawsuit if not done properly. Let us go through the list –

  1. Are there product liability suits? YES
  2. Are there lawsuits for Wrongful Hire? Yes
  3. Are there lawsuits for Harassment? Yes
  4. Are there lawsuits for Wrongful termination? Yes
  5. Are there lawsuits for Personal Liability? Yes

Literally every action a company takes can result in a lawsuit if not performed properly.

Do not use Corporate Counsel as a scapegoat if hiring the Best Candidates who fit your Culture is a priority.

“Reference Checks are a Waste of Time!”

This quote informs me that Human Resources’ idea of a Reference Check is to ask for Title, Dates of Employment, and if the person is welcome back for Rehire.

Those calls Are a Waste of Time. Utilize a Background Investigation company to make that determination. They are less expensive and do it every day. A company would be wise to conduct background investigations for all positions – and credit checks for employees responsible for handling money, accounting, and finances.

Reference Checks Are The Tool To Determine Cultural Fit!

Consider – 4 times I have called a reference for a Reference Check – And The Reference BURST OUT LAUGHING! Do not for a second believe that references will automatically endorse that person for a job! Yes, those reference checks did not go well. One said, “Did she tell you I fired her 2 weeks ago?”

If I did not conduct the reference check, my client would have hired that person – and later regretted it. Your company has probably had the same experience, especially if your practice is to assume the person is a good fit if they have the right skills.

Who Is the BEST Person To Conduct A Reference Check?

Who is the best person to conduct a reference check? The Hiring Manager is the best person to conduct a reference check. Why? They should know EVERYTHING about the job. Recruiters and Human Resources only have a high level view of the position. The Best Managers know the 3 month, 6 month, 9 month, and 12 month goals for the first year. Therefore, they know the skills, experience, and attributes (i.e., perseverance) to be successful in the first year. If a reference puts a flag up, the manager may be the only person to recognize the flag.

How Should A Professional Reference Check Be Structured?

There are Three Levels of Information to discover if a candidate is who they claim they are – and Are a good Cultural Fit. It is important to spend a couple of minutes discussing the position with the reference to help them frame their responses.

  1. Who is the professional reference, and what was their professional relationship with the candidate? This information is important for you to determine if this person is qualified to speak to the candidate’s skills, experience, and attributes.
  2. The second level is developing questions to determine if the candidate has the skills, experience, and attributes to be successful during the first year. Ask the reference to give you stories to demonstrate those skills, experience, and attributes.
  3. The third level is the level that determines the candidate fit. By now the manager conducting the reference check has presumably built a little relationship with the reference.

It is now time to ask the RecruiterGuy Magical Questions –

  • What frustrates Jolene? How does she show her frustration? If Jolene is frustrated with micromanagement, and the manager is a micromanager, this is a poor cultural fit.
  • What do you feel are Jackson’s strengths relative to this new position?
  • Where do you feel Jackson needs improvement? (note: You Did Not Ask for Weaknesses)
  • What is your recommendation to best manage Morris?
  • What do you Feel I need to Watch For? (This is an intentionally open ended question – and one that has determined many candidates’ fates)
  • Is there anything else that you feel we should know?

Several years ago, I coached a manager on her reference checks. She felt they were a waste of time – until her third and last reference on a candidate. She thanked the reference. Then apologized, and asked if she could ask one more question. The reference’s response helped her determine Not to hire the candidate.

Keep the responses of your candidates’ references confidential. If you decide not to hire someone, simply tell them that you decided to take another look at the position requirements.  You will get back to them if you decide they are still a fit.

A Reference Check is the Final Due Diligence for a Candidate’s fit for your position. Conducting effective Reference Checks determines whether any or all of your candidates fit your culture. Isn’t that worth training your manager to be effective?

This is a Talent Attraction Process Improvement step that needs to be included in Every Recruitment Strategy.

If you would like a conversation on how to ATTRACT talent instead of using a system to screen them out, we should chat. Call me directly at 435-714-4425 (mountain).

I am available to consult with your company to improve your Top Talent Attraction strategy. Attracting and integrating Top Talent gives your company an industry edge. The process is worth the effort by improving productivity, innovation, and profitability – Look at Google, Tesla, SpaceX, and Apple.

The RecruiterGuy.com Top Talent Attraction business model is my differentiator.  I focus on one client at a time and charge a flat monthly fee.  This model enables me to attract new talent to your organization while identifying and suggesting improvements to your company’s Talent Attraction process, including Manager Interview Training.  https://recruiterguy.com/

Learn how I coach my Career Transition Clients in my most recent book – Employee 5.0: Secrets Of A Successful Job Search In The New World Order  http://amzn.to/2D9w39f  My book includes an appendix with action verbs and sample interview questions.

I help organizations Recruit, Onboard, Actuate, and Retain Top Talent.

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Bill Humbert is available for Speaking, Talent Attraction Consulting, and Training contracts.

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