Today’s human resource administrators are only able to do the bare minimum in terms of job verification. Fear of litigation leaves something arbitrary or, more importantly, litigious null and void. The day your applicant started working, the date he quit, and the job he held are usually all that is returned from a formal employment check. You’ll often find yourself without the information you need to make an informed hiring decision. The HR Manager will sometimes be daring and reply that your candidate was “in good standing.”
At the time of this writing, there was a radio show on which the show’s analyst reaffirmed this principle. The presenter warned Human Resources staff that providing a positive reference carries the same risk as providing a negative reference. He went on to suggest that all job verification should be as uniform as possible. He suggested only stating the start and end dates, as well as the position kept.
Is this basic information sufficient to make an educated decision about a job candidate? On occasion. Yes, when the job is straightforward and no special skills are needed. The only thing left to decide is whether or not your candidate actually served at his former job. You can need additional information about an IT candidate’s technological abilities, but whether or not his previous job as a pizza boy will provide some useful insight into his abilities is debatable.
Since traditional employment verification yields such limited details, an increasing number of companies are turning to reference verification to learn more about their applicants and their skills. Although reference checking has its advantages and disadvantages, it is a smart way to go in a lot of hiring situations.
Reference checks are the most effective way to determine a job candidate’s skill set. Recruiters can use comparison tests to see if their applicants have the requisite special skills and experience. You can use references to determine a job candidate’s level of IT expertise, as well as his familiarity with general and industry-specific software programs. You might want to learn more about his graphic and web design skills, as they can be useful considerations.
As a recruiter, you will be interested in learning more about your candidate’s networking skills and who he knows in his industry. If he’s a salesperson, you should know how well connected he is in terms of, say, product licensing in specific geographic regions. When language ability is a problem for foreign applicants, you can use reference verification to help determine these skills.
Of course, there are other questions you might ask during your reference check. You may be interested in learning more about your candidate’s management abilities or style. You must decide if he works well with others, whether he is a team player, or whether he chooses to work alone. Is he reliable? Does he arrive on time? Is he always absent? What areas would he need to work on?
We ask the reference to rate the job applicant on a scale of one to ten as part of the verification process. The highest score is ten. Our clients typically need at least a seven rating to be deemed a viable job applicant. The age group of seven and up is considered to be fairly stable.
When the reference gets carried away, he or she can call out a ten. Most employees will regard this as energizing. There are, however, exceptions. If the comparison is a senior executive who qualifies his or her point with phrases like “I’ve been around for umpteen years and seldom have I seen someone perform as well as So and So,” the employer is more likely to believe it.
The higher level scores are usually a nine or nine plus. The comparison will always preface his ranking with the phrase “Everyone has space to improve…”
Always keep in mind that the reference provided by your job applicant will be positive. In his right mind, no candidate will provide you with references that would go out of their way to sink his ship. The relation may not be as complimentary to the candidate as the candidate would like to think. While the reference aspires to be a good person, they may still wish to reveal the less positive aspects. There are a variety of explanations for this. They should want to give you a heads-up on occasion. There are personal problems that arise from time to time. They’re even just covering their butts.
The reference does not tell you outright that the applicant is difficult to work with or that they will never recruit them again. Nonetheless, they wish to do so. As a consequence, the indicator is not the answer itself, but the manner in which they respond. It’s what they don’t say or their reluctance that gives away their dissatisfaction with your candidate.
It’s worth noting that, in the unlikely yet humiliating event that you get a reference’s contact information, you should double-check that they’re a valid source. Either rely on their company phone number as well as their mobile phone number, or find a way to prove that the reference isn’t your candidate’s cousin Richard posing as the former CEO of Fictitious Enterprises and ready to offer them a glowing recommendation. Do you believe it won’t happen? Reconsider your position. However, you might want to balance your candidate’s tendency for deception against his boldness and imaginative thinking. Only joking.