Tips For Achieving Effective Reference Check Phone Calls

21 January 2016
 Categories: , Blog


Hiring the right employees is important for all businesses, but it is not an easy task to complete. There are a lot of steps you can should take before you hire someone to work for your company, and one of these is completing effective reference checks. Reference checks are a vital step in the hiring process, and here are some tips to help you get more out of these phone calls.

Avoid yes and no questions

It is easy for a reference to answer yes and no questions, but you might not learn a lot about the person through these questions alone. On the other hand, you might be able to learn a great deal about a person if you ask open ended questions. Your goal of the call is to learn as much as possible about the candidate you are considering hiring. Here are some questions that could help you achieve this:

  • Could you tell me what the person's greatest strengths are?
  • What about the person's weaknesses?
  • Would you rehire the person, and if so, why?
  • Did the person make any major contributions to your organization?
  • Is there anything interesting you can tell me about the person's skills, educational background, or work qualities?

Questions like these will open up dialogue between you and the reference, and they are likely to help you gather details that will help you decide whether to hire the person or not. As you do this, it is also important to avoid asking questions that are not legally allowed. This can include questions about the person's looks, sexual orientation, race, and religion.

Ask references for additional references

When applicants list references on their applications and resumes, they typically hand-select the people they think would offer "good" answers during a reference call. Applicants may also purposely leave people off their list if they believe the information would be derogatory. If you ask each reference what his or her title is and how that related to the applicant, you might discover that the applicant left off names of his or her direct supervisors.

If you could get the names of the applicant's direct supervisors, you may be able to learn more information, simply because the direct supervisor may know the applicant well.

Learning how to effectively handle reference checks can take time, but this is an important step in the hiring process. If you do not feel confident doing this or would like to make sure your reference checks are as effective as possible, you may want to hire an employment screening company.