Employee reference checks – Going beyond antecedents

A lot of us consider reference checks nothing more than a mundane, arduous and time-consuming task.

This is completely untrue! A reference check unearths a colossal amount of accurate information of a prospective candidate/ an existing employee. It sifts out the right fit candidate from the huge applicant pool. Without this as a part of the hiring process, HR Managers would not be able to determine the candidate’s cultural fit, past performance, attitude, aptitude, etc. Why not take advantage of a previous employer’s experience!

Unfortunately, even in today’s times, the hiring process has a lot of subjectivity – like the traditional ‘gut instinct’. A gut instinct about a potential applicant should be considered, but it should not become the sole reason for hiring. This is where a reference check comes handy. It helps the HR manager in ascertaining a candidate’s selection quotient. Hiring the wrong person can be detrimental for any employer. According to a CareerBuilder survey, 3 in 10 of responding employers said that when they checked a candidate’s references, a professional contact did not have positive things to say. In addition, 29 percent of the employers surveyed detected a false reference on a job seeker’s application.

Recently a candidate applied for the post of a sales manager’s job at an HR outsourcing company. His application was rejected after the company found out via a reference check from the previous employer that he had left his former job without serving the notice period. The reference check also brought to light that his resignation letter and pay slip were forged.

The above-mentioned is not a stray case. As per a survey by the ASSOCHAM Social Development Foundation, 3-4 per cent candidates fail their background checks. India Inc. is waking up to global trends. Companies in India now are vetting potential employees across levels. There have even been cases of job offers being revoked because of discrepancy arising in the background verification.

Now that you’re determined to become a smart recruiter by reference checking, the important question is what to ascertain in the reference check? Also should every candidate go through the process?

The answer to this is that every applicant who is issued an offer letter should be put through the process of reference checking. An addendum can be inserted in the offer letter, stating that the candidate will be issued the appointment letter subject to a satisfactory reference check.

The reference check format should be such that it incorporates question that are of relevance to your organization and the job-fit. The questionnaire should begin with basic questions like relationship with the applicant, period of knowing each other. It should then move to ascertaining the candidate’s communication and inter personal skills. Another factor to be incorporated is the applicant’s aptitude towards work and how result/objective driven is he/she. A section should be dedicated to the candidate’s professional and personal strengths and weaknesses. Finally a segment should be added for additional comments. This should be put to capture any behavioral/ attitudinal aspects that the reference may want to highlight about the candidate.

Another vital tip – instead of contacting personal references who may only be able to speak about a candidate’s general character, keep your reference checks focused on sources who have worked directly with the applicant and who have knowledge of the applicant’s work experience.

We at JantaKhoj specialize in background verification. The reference check verification we provide gives an insight into the applicant’s reliability, adaptability, dependability, competency, professional qualifications and integrity. We have a comprehensive set of questions that you may choose from; also it may be customized based on your requirements. We propose that the best practice is to verify at least two professional references and one independent reference for every candidate.

Choose JantaKhoj – Your candidate. Our verification!

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