How to Nail The Reference Checking Process

02 Sep 2014 | Naomi Marshall

Reference checking is a crucial part of the recruitment process. You’d be surprised how often this can catch someone off guard if they aren’t prepared. Make sure you nail the whole recruitment process from start to finish by understanding and being prepared for reference checks!

You’ve made it through the first interview with the recruiter, then 2-3 (or even 4 interviews!) with the client and an offer is now on the table. Then you hear the words “the offer is pending reference checks”.

Now you shouldn’t be shaking in your boots at this point because you if you have performed as a good employee then you won’t have any trouble pulling up a variety of names of people who will be happy to speak on your behalf. But you shouldn’t be complacent either.

Reference checks can be a little tricky if your work history has been limited. However, we understand you won’t have as many ‘managers’ who have overseen your work and guided you. You may need to call upon people who can speak about your character, personality and possibly shed some light on your personal achievements.

Here are Sprint People’s Top Tips to keep in mind when selecting referees to assist you with the recruitment process:

Choosing the Best Referee
The best referee (in the eyes of the recruiter and/or hiring manager) is someone who has directly managed you before. Supplying the person who you sat next to, the one you went to the gym with 3 times a week or even your friend’s manager who knew you ‘reasonably well’ doesn’t constitute a “great referee”. The purpose of the reference is for the potential employer to gain information on how you performed in the role, how you are best managed and key points relating to how they may further develop you in the future.

Ask First
Before offering up the name and contact details of any potential referees, ensure you ask that person if they feel comfortable being a referee for you. Having their name attached to comments relating to a person’s performance is a serious matter and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Confirm Contact Details With Referee
Double check if your referee feels comfortable having their personal contact details supplied to a hiring manager, HR or recruiter. Maybe they would prefer to only have a work number given out instead of their mobile? Everyone is different.

Multiple Contact Details
Where possible you should give more than one contact number for the referee, e.g. a business landline and a mobile.

Provide All The Information
Offer the full name and title of the referee, also state if this is different from when you worked with them (e.g. have they moved companies, if so was it before or after you left the company). Give a short description of who they are, how you know them. You’d be surprised at how many people send through a referee simply with a name eg Pete Smith, M 0408 XXX XXX– ok so who is Pete, how do you know him, when did you work with him, does he know I have his number??? It could be that I ring him only to ask all of these questions then uncover that he’s not a suitable referee anyway. A waste of everyone’s time.

Keep Your Referee In The Loop
Ensure that the referee is alerted every time you are seeking a new role so they are ready to receive phone calls from employers and recruiters. Remember the referee is doing you a favour and it’s only courteous to advise them each time they may be called upon. There is nothing worse than when we call a referee to obtain a reference, we state the candidates name, let them know the nature of our call and the referee says ‘Who?? Sorry I can’t remember that person and/or I didn’t know they were looking for a new job again‘ etc etc. Not ideal for the recruiter and certainly not a good reflection on you!

Tell Your Referee About The Role
When the referee knows a little about the job you are going for and knows why you want it, they usually tailor their answers and offer advice on why they feel you’d be great in that position. It makes the reference more personal and demonstrates they really know you and your strengths. It always speaks very highly when they are able to recommend you for the position as they understand it and this is often the icing on the cake to a hiring manager or recruiter taking the reference.

Keep Your Referees Up To Date
As your career develops, referees will change (you should supply referees from the most recent roles, no point offering the manager you worked for 10 years ago if you’ve had 3 jobs since then), so keep them up to date.

If you are supplying referee information on the bottom of your CV ensure you keep this up to date and also ensure the referee is aware their name is listed as it will be seen every time you send it out. It’s totally acceptable to simply state ‘referee details can be supplied on request’.

Be Honest
The recruiter or hiring manager may want to check the referee’s credibility on LinkedIn or via the Receptionist at the company listed so if you’re thinking of telling a porky pie on who the referee is – best to think again.

It is so exciting to get to reference stage of the recruitment process, although a reference check can be performed anywhere from the beginning to the end of a professional recruitment process. By following the above tips, you will be prepared and can ensure your reference checks will support the process and not hinder your chances in securing what may be your dream job!

For further recruitment advice, check out Sprint Coach or please don’t hesitate to contact Naomi Marshall directly on 9271 0011.

Naomi Marshall – Director
P: (02) 9271 0011
M: 0422 139 910

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