Conducting reference checks is both a liked and common method in the recruiting world, and according to the survey “The bosses as recruiters” that Ledarna (Sweden’s organization for managers) conducted, 96% of bosses conducted reference checks for a new recruitment. Around 60% of these contacted two references, whilst 16% only contacted one contact.
Use a reference template and ask specific questions
The two most important points to keep in mind when conducting reference checks are asking the correct questions (which you should already have prepared in a reference template), and to ask these questions correctly! Without a template to follow, you risk changing the conditions for each candidate which can result in an unfair treatment, ultimately resulting in a possible sub-optimal recruitment. Write down all the questions you want to ask the reference, be consistent and base your questions on the specified job requirements. Be sure to ask concrete questions that demand more than a yes/no answer to avoid ending the conversation as it started: with no new information to work on. Strive towards getting the reference to describe the achievements of the candidate through questions such as “How did he/she function at work”, or “Could you describe what areas he/she was especially competent within?”. You can of course also use the same questions you used in the interview.
In our white paper (in Swedish) about taking reference checks we take a deeper look at the subject and give you, amongst other things, tips about what questions to ask when checking references, we tell you what time is the best time for calling references, we discuss the ethics and morals and tell you about objective reference checking, and much more. You can download our white paper about reference checks here.