We have all been there and said: “If I had known this, I would never have hired him”. It did not come out in the reference check.
You have shortlisted a superstar with an offer on the table “subject to reference checks”.
A reference check should be as comprehensive as a candidate interview. The intent is to verify the information obtained from the candidate through another source. As a phone reference check is limited by time, the information is also limited.
Some time ago, I was recruiting a CEO for a long-term client. It was a critical role, so it had to be the right candidate. There was no room for a mistake.
I offered a 12-month guarantee, therefore, if the candidate fell off not only would the client lose money, but 11 Recruitment would too.
We found a superstar! Everything looked great from all our research. The job was offered “subject to reference checking”.
We had a long list of questions for the referee, far too many for a regular phone call.
We created a reference check form for the candidate to complete the way he thought his referees would answer.
It took the candidate a couple of hours to complete the form, however, after three interviews, he was keen on the role. He also knew this was the last hurdle to overcome. The candidate was compelled to tell the truth because the chances of being caught lying were very high, and he knew the consequences.
The completed form was emailed to the referees, asking them to verify what the candidate had written. It took them 10 minutes to read and they emailed back “all verified”. I contacted the referees for a 10 minute discussion. Our short, in-depth conversation covered more ground than a two hour reference check.
12 months later, both the client and I said:
It takes a lot of research to eliminate a candidate who looks sensational yet is not up to expectations, but it’s worth it. You will hire more superstars than duds!
Free download of the reference check form I used:
See also: Perfect conditions – don’t complain
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