The hiring process has changed considerably in the world of social media. A simple Google search can give employers a lot of information about their potential employee’s past, prompting many companies to drop the taxing process of checking references and running background checks.

There are advantages to cutting out the reference check and streamlining the hiring process, but when it comes to truly understanding an employee’s history, nothing replaces this good, old-fashioned practice.

Pros and Cons of Checking References

Revealing or not?

When people are asked to list references, they typically don’t list that boss who hated them. Because the candidates choose references themselves, you may not get a complete picture from the reference check. At the same time, old bosses have little to lose by giving an honest picture of an old employee and may bring up something you weren’t able to glean from the candidate in the interview.

Worth the time?

Hiring is a time-consuming process, and checking each candidate’s references is even more taxing. Whether you choose to check references on candidates or not, you should follow your practice consistently.

How to Get the Most from a Reference Check

While checking references does have its downsides, most HR professionals will advise employers to do it and do it thoroughly. Here are some tips for using references for the greatest benefit.

Make a call — It may be tempting to fire off an email to each reference with some simple verification questions, but to get the most out of a reference check, it’s important to call. Being able to ask open-ended questions is the only way to genuinely verify that what an applicant said in your interview matches up with what his or her job was truly like.

Make references the tipping point — If you’ve got two great applicants, references are a good way to make that final decision. If one applicant only gets a mediocre response from their references, then maybe that person isn’t really the right candidate for the job.

Follow up — Reference checks may not lead to a wealth of new information for a hiring manager, but if they do, it’s important to follow up with the applicant. Maybe there is a discrepancy that can be easily explained or maybe a glowing review leaves you with more questions. Either way, it’s important that applicants get a chance to respond before you make that final decision.

For reference checks and all of your company’s hiring needs, LBMC Employment Partners can help guide you. To learn more about our services, contact LBMC today.