Warning Signs to Watch Out For When Checking Candidate References

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When you’re looking to make your next big hire, there are a few critical parts of the hiring process that will determine whether the result is good or great. Checking for references is one of those crucial steps!

We aren’t going to lie, checking references is time-consuming, and there aren’t any shortcuts around it. Becoming a master question asker and learning how to ask the tough questions during a reference check will help you hire the best possible candidate for the position. 

Checking references can confirm your initial impressions of the candidate, validate the information they’ve already provided you, and determine their eligibility for the role. 

We highly recommend obtaining two or three strong references from the candidate you’re interviewing – including previous instructors, supervisors, managers, clients, or customers. As a best practice, friends and family members should be avoided.

Here are a few warning signs to make note of when talking with references so that a win-win scenario can be created for both you and the candidate in question. 

Inconsistent Information

It’s important to validate stories, skills, qualifications, and experience. The questions you ask the reference should mirror your interview questions while focusing on the requirements and core competencies of the role. If the stories between the reference and the candidate aren’t lining up, this red flag should be investigated further. 

Fairweather References

If references are giving vague responses, are hesitant to answer specific questions, or are giving you wishy-washy statements, learn to read between the lines. This is one of the many reasons it’s important to obtain more than one reference for the process. 

Don’t Just Focus On Weaknesses

It’s helpful as a hiring manager to be aware of the candidate’s weaknesses, especially when determining eligibility and fit. Hiring managers should be aware of the candidate’s blind spots and know how to develop them. Look for red flags in competencies, but remember that every situation is circumstantial. Just because one company wasn’t a fit for that candidate, doesn’t mean they won’t flourish at yours. 

Super Positive References

While positivity is important, if a candidate is made to sound too good to be true, they likely are! When taking on the role as a reference, you agree to share candid responses that reflect both the strengths and weaknesses of the candidate. Watch out for those who can’t think of a single thing the candidate can do better – no one is perfect! 

Asking To Avoid Certain References

If a candidate asks you to avoid certain references or the contact information is wrong, flags should be raised. Every circumstance is different, so give the candidate time to explain or provide the correct contact information, but don’t forget to make a mental note as to why either of these circumstances occurred. 

When was the last time you evaluated your recruiting strategy? Need help asking the tough questions? We are always happy to be a resource to ensure you’re attracting the highest quality candidates to complete your team.

Contact us today to get started. We can’t wait to be a part of the process. 

P: 403.264.2242
E: [email protected] 

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