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You think you've just met the perfect person for the job. But how do you make sure he's 'the one'?

by , 11 December 2015
This answer's obvious right: Do a quick reference check! This will give you the chance to gather 'intel' from an outside source!

BUT before you rush off and start frantically dialling, you need to know exactly how to get the referee to talk to.

And that's where I come in.

Firstly, let's look at the best places to get a reliable reference...

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The best contacts for getting references are:
  • Previous (or current) supervisors.
  • If you're hiring for a management position ask for the details of an employee he's managed. This will give a good indication of how he managed others.
  • If the position's senior-level, ask for a board member or other high-level referee.
  • If you're a highly team-oriented company, ask for the name of a former peer or colleague.
  • And of course, a reference check just wouldn't be complete with a quick scouting of social networking sites.

-    Facebook www.facebook.com
-    LinkedIn www.linkedin.com
-    Twitter www.twitter.com
-    And even plain old Google www.google.com

Now that you know who to chat to and where to look, here's how to get the info you need...
A lot of companies have a policy in place that stops their employees from giving references. In general, the HR department will only confirm employment, the dates of employment and the employee's job title.

If the referee opens the conversation with the 'no-reference' policy, tell him it's a purely work-related reference, is highly confidential and that you won't discuss it with anyone. Emphasise discretion and confidentiality!

You've got him on the line and ready to spill the beans, what now?

When getting information from the referee, make sure you only ask open-ended questions. These are more objective, less leading and encourages the referee to give a full explanation.

An open-ended question usually begins with words such as 'why' and 'how', or phrases such as 'tell me about...' Often they're not a question, but rather a statement thatasks for a response.
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6 Rules to get the most accurate reference possible

• Be persistent. Remember the referee's just as busy as you are, it's not part of his daily job to give references and he'll probably try fob you off. Respect his time, but persevere, as he probably won't return your call if you agree to let him call you back.

• Plan the calls in advance. Make sure you know what you want to ask this specific referee about the potential new recruit.

• Be consistent and fair. Just like when you're interviewing candidates, it's important to maintain a consistent and fair process when you check references. Don't try lead the referees for answers you want. Make sure you ask the same questions to all referees about all potential candidates!

• Be aware: The most important part of a reference check is to listen; let him talk. Listen carefully to what he's saying and how he says it.

• Keep it legal: The same discrimination laws that apply to interviewing apply to reference checking. Don't ask about marital status, age, disabilities, religion, ethnicity, etc.

• Use our reference check sample template: Remember to use open-ended questions and constantly ask the referee to elaborate on any answers you want more info on.


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