Considering the amount of time and effort that goes into performing reference checks, Employment Office posed the question: Are Reference Checks really worth it?


EO’s Shortlisting Specialist team believes that reference checks remain a critical aspect of the recruitment process in the modern job market. When done properly, a reference check provides the future employer with assurance of a candidate's abilities to successfully perform in the position, and has also become a matter of necessity due in part to an increasing number of applicants making false claims on their job applications and resumes. ‘Stretching the truth’ in resumes is not uncommon and happens more than you may think!


The benefits of a comprehensive reference check are multiple, and can include increased applicant quality, reduced losses from employee dishonesty, and making the right hire the first time. Employees are the livelihood of an organisation, and reference checks can help an organisation achieve more success by placing the right person the first time around, allowing for greater profits and impact. Conducting reference checks is a good predictor of future performance and checking references all the way down the line has also become much easier with the advent of social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, which provide a place for you to list your employment history.


The negatives for conducting reference checks for employers are primarily time and expense constraints. Our Shortlisting Specialists note, however, that forking out the time and money to do this may save a significant amount of time down the track when you find that you've hired an unsuitable person and now have to re-recruit!


So, how do you know who's lying to you and how do you get the most out of a reference check?

Here are our Top Tips for Performing an Effective Reference Check:

  • Tailor your reference check questions to help clarify any potential areas of concern. When appropriate questions are asked, the information gained can be a very valid predictor of future performance and can provide extra information during the recruitment process to confirm/clarify decisions.
  • Specify ahead of time what sort of questions you are going to ask. If the questions aren’t used effectively (i.e. are very general and vague), they can be an ineffective use of time.
  • Implement free 'modern day reference checks' by making the most of social media - You can search for people on LinkedIn and see where they have worked in the past, what skills they possess and how many people have recommended them.

Hiring mistakes can be extremely costly, and due diligence can really pay off in a company's recruiting process. Quality background checks easily pay for themselves!

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