How to do a reference check

Christian Madsen

Written by Christian Madsen

Managing Director of 11 Recruitment

Reference checks are crucial

Many of us have been in a situation where we've hired a new employee and they didn't end up performing as we expected. After a moment of realisation, we think to ourselves "If I had known this, I would not have hired them to begin with".

Reference checks are a crucial part of the recruitment process, as they help to minimise the risk of hiring the wrong person. As stated in an article from SHRM, we may uncover reasons relating to safety, productivity or the inability to verify information that disqualify an applicant.

So, when giving candidates an offer of employment, it should always be "subject to reference checks".

Ideally, a reference check should be as comprehensive as a candidate interview. The intent is to verify all (or as much as possible) of the information obtained from the candidate through another source. Reference checks are, however, often limited by time, which restricts the information we are able to obtain. As such, this limits the amount of information we are able to verify, leaving a gap in the verification process that increases the candidate's risk profile.

A solution for better reference checks

Some time ago, we were recruiting a CEO for a long-term client.

After a lot of sourcing and interviewing, we identified a candidate who we believed would be a superstar in the role. Everything looked great from all our research, so the job was offered “subject to reference checks”.

We had a long list of questions for the referee, far too many for a regular phone call. As such, we created a reference check form for the candidate to complete. The candidate was asked to answer the questions in the way they thought their referee would answer them.

  • The candidate completed the form, which tool them approximately two hours. The candidate was compelled to tell the truth, as we had been transparent that this form would be emailed to the referee.
  • We contacted the candidate's references, emailed them the form and asked them to verify the information. It took them 10 minutes to read and they emailed back “all verified”. We then contacted the referee for a 10 minute discussion. This short, in-depth conversation covered more ground than a two hour reference check would have.

12 months later, our client told us "we're happy - we made a great choice".

Conducting proper checks will result in us hiring more superstars than duds! Click the button below to see the reference check form we used for this recruitment drive. 

Top Talent

Want to recruit top talent?

Now that you understand how to do a reference check, you may be interested in learning more about 11 Recruitment's permanent recruitment services.

11 Recruitment is the leading perm and temp recruitment agency for white-collar staff. We source high achievers for jobs in Perth and throughout Australia.

At 11, we typically get involved in the recruitment process when a client is either seeking a high achiever to elevate their business, recruiting for a role that is hard to fill, or having difficulty sourcing or attracting suitable candidates.

We provide the following recruitment services.

Click the button below to learn more about how 11 Recruitment sources top talent for businesses throughout Australia.

Christian Madsen

What are your thoughts?

I'd love to have a conversation with you about this topic - please leave a comment below if you have any thoughts or opinions 🙂

Christian Madsen

Managing Director of 11 Recruitment

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