Reference checks are critical to the hiring process. Yet many organizations have abandoned or outsourced them to an external third party who does only the bare minimum.

Over the last few decades reference checks have become the responsibility of HR or the Talent Acquisition team, deemed too unimportant or time-consuming for hiring managers.

This is a big mistake.

It’s much more time consuming/expensive to hire the wrong person and – done well – properly conducted reference checks can help you avoid that.

Hiring managers should do reference checks for all but very junior staff. You read that right. The person who is ultimately going to employ the candidate should speak to the candidate’s referees.

Why?

❓Who else really knows what their red flags are?

❓Who has more to gain from getting a full, complete reference check on a potential employee than their prospective manager?

❓Who else will be hypersensitive enough to be able to pick up on hesitations, tones of voice or obscure language on the part of the referee?

It can be hard to get a referee to talk. Maybe that’s because they don’t consider the person doing the reference a peer.

This dynamic changes when the when manager speaks to manager.

Sometimes the Future of Work requires us to revisit past practices.

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