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Is It Still Necessary to Check References When Hiring in 2023?

Reference checks used to be considered a standard part of the hiring process. Once the field of candidates was narrowed down, a hiring manager would call the references listed on a candidate’s application – former coworkers, supervisors, bosses, etc. – and ask them pointed questions about the candidate, helping to make a final determination on the hire. In many cases, reference checks were a key factor in the decision-making process.  

But are reference checks still relevant? Are they necessary when hiring in 2023? 

Reference checks aren’t quite as common as they once were, and some employers don’t use them at all. But many companies still use reference checks during the hiring process, and they’re still quite useful when deciding on the next person to bring onto your team. Here’s why: 

Reference Checks Help You Verify Skills and Experience

The first reason that reference checks are still necessary is obvious: It helps the hiring manager to determine whether the candidate really has the experience, job history, skills, and knowledge they claim they do. When hiring, you want to make sure the candidate is the right performance fit – they need to be able to perform the job to your standards. And the cost of a bad hire – someone who isn’t the right fit and needs to be let go or leaves on their own accord – is significant.  

Checking references ahead of time can help you avoid a bad hire and ensure that the person you’re adding to your team has the necessary skills and knowledge to get the job done right. 

Reference Checks Help You Determine Cultural Fit

Of course, there is more to a great addition to your team than just performance alone. The individual needs to mesh well with your organizational culture, your office environment, the atmosphere of your company. And reference checks help you find the right fit.  

Reference checks help you dig deeper into the candidate’s work habits. Whether they’ve supervised other employees, for example, and how they handled conflict in the workplace. You can also learn about their work ethic, approach to problem-solving, and communication skills. This kind of information is absolutely essential when it comes to knowing whether a candidate will fit into your organizational culture and work the way the rest of your team does.  

Reference Checks Help You Determine Personality Fit

A candidate’s personality fit isn’t quite the same as their cultural fit, although the two are related. You can use targeted questions to learn about a candidate’s personal values and what they really want out of their job. You can find out how the individual contributed to their previous employer’s mission and long-term goals, how they respond to criticism, and what kind of management style might suit their personality best. All of this helps you to onboard your candidate smoothly and ensure their personality and approach are not at odds with what your company needs. 

What to Ask a Candidate’s References

We’ve learned about why reference checks are still relevant when hiring in 2023. It helps you to determine performance fit, as well as cultural and personality fit. In short, it helps you as the employer ensure you’re bringing on the right person. But once you actually get on the phone with the references that a candidate has listed on their application, what do you say? What might you want to ask in order to get the most out of those references? 

Here are some good questions to ask when contacting a candidate’s references: 

  • Would you rehire this candidate if given the chance? Why? 
  • What type of work environment do you think this candidate would thrive in? 
  • Can you describe the candidate’s reliability and work ethic? 
  • What did the candidate accomplish while working with you? 
  • What are the candidate’s strengths? What are their weaknesses? 
  • Why did the candidate leave your company?  
  • Would you recommend this candidate for hire? Why or why not? 

Using questions like these should give you a good picture of the impression made by the candidate you’re considering. And that’s worth quite a lot – sometimes, what others have to say about a person makes all the difference when deciding whether to include them in your team. And that’s the true value of reference checks.  

Want Help With Reference Checks?  

Properly vetting new hires is essential when adding to your team. But it’s about more than making sure people have the right qualifications. You need to ensure the candidates you’re considering fit your organizational culture and have the right personality to make an impact within your company.  

Metrodata Services provides reference checking for employers to learn about the candidates they are considering while expediting the hiring process. This helps ease the burden on your company and improve your hiring process at the same time. Contact our team to learn more about our services – we look forward to helping you get started. 

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