Super Reference Checks

14288135_05fd9e848a I wrote about using the web to find out who was a star not too long ago. I also said that I would be writing a post about how to do super reference checks the next day, but apparently I forgot about it. My apologies, but here is the post on super reference checks for today.

The art of reference checking isn’t so much of an art anymore. If companies even bother doing it, it is kind of worthless. Because of fear of litigation, most people will only clarify the basics during a reference check. They will usually (but not always) confirm the dates the employee worked there, what their title was, etc. Anything beyond that is usually not provided.

How does one get around those barriers to get an accurate feeling about how someone is during a reference check? Like in many of my posts, the advice I’m giving is just what has worked for me and the companies I’ve worked with. It isn’t scientifically or studied in a very formal manner.

Do the checks.
Obviously the first step is actually doing the checks. A lot of companies don’t even bother with any form of reference check and that is a huge mistake.

Call employers that weren’t listed.
Pretty much anyone can come up with a list of three or four people that like them and have had a positive experience with the person. But what about the rest of their employment history? Consider calling companies that the employee didn’t list as a reference. See what they have to say.

Ask for people who weren’t listed.
It may be a good idea to ask to talk to the potential employee’s co-workers, the boss above their boss, etc. The point is to get an idea about what the employee was like from multiple perspectives and not just the one they listed on their reference sheet.

Ask for testimonials and/or recommendations.
It is a good idea to ask for testimonials and/or recommendations. Employees that have been working for a lot (as in: not right out of school) probably won’t have very recent ones, but see what they can come up with. The testimonials and recommendations don’t even have to be specific to the job – they just need to show something about the employee, their work ethic, their character, etc.

Ask tough questions.
While the answers you get might be somewhat limited, there is no reason you shouldn’t ask. Some companies may surprise you and answer or at least provide some hints about the candidate you are asking about. There is no reason not to ask tough questions.

Do you have any secrets when it comes to reference checks? How do you get information about potential employees through the checks?

Image courtesy of tallcrhis.