Hiring a new employee is one of the most important decisions a manager can make, and with so many stages in this process of recruitment, steps like checking references sometimes fall to the way side as it may seem like a tedious task.

In this week’s blog post, we look into reference checking and how skipping this step could be a mistake that no hiring manager wants to make.

Is checking references really so important?

Most hiring managers are aware that reference checking is essential. However, due to busy schedules and perhaps trust in a candidates’ provided information, they often omit this task. The cost of this negligence can sometimes be very high.

According to a study conducted by ADP Screening and Selection Services in 2001, 44% of applicants lied about their work histories, 41% lied about their education, and 23% falsified credentials or licenses. This inevitably led to repeating the recruitment process all over again, and the loss of time, money and effort towards the hiring process. These statistics serve as a warning to employers not to underestimate the value of reference checking in the recruitment process.

The past predicts the future…

This is the school of thought around reference checking. The reference checking process relies on the behavioural consistency principle which states that the most reliable predictor of future behaviour, such as job performance, is past behaviour.

When you have found your perfect job candidate and you’re ready to hire, it’s understandable that you’d be ready to hire your job candidate and close the process as quickly as possible.

For some managers, this might mean making one short call to make a quick reference without going in depth, others it might mean skipping the reference check altogether and going with their gut feeling.

But if you take a moment it could be the perfect opportunity to see if references can back up what your candidate has been saying.

A Cautionary Tale

There have been numerous stories from managers of candidates soaring high through interviews only to find out (and often too late at that point) that some key points were left out – some including that the candidate may have been involved in theft or perhaps only participated in a project instead of managing it as they may have stated in their application. It’s also increasingly important to note that employers can be held responsible for negligent hiring if the employer knows, or should have known, that the candidate could or would create an undue risk or harm to other employees.

Checking a candidates references doesn’t guarantee that you’re hiring the perfect candidate, but it is a valuable tool to determining whether the information in the candidate’s resume and interview answers are consistent and accurate. It’s one of the best ways to establish if candidate really has the experience and temperament that you need for the job that you are filling. References can feel like a waste of time but only if you treat them like the next item to cross off a list, it can be a genuinely useful tool in your recruitment process.

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