Reference checking to uncover the real truth

reference checkingGenerally when people reference check it is a quick call and they mostly want to confirm what they already know, or think that they know about the candidate. Rather than asking probing questions, often the reference check will be about checking that their perception about their preferred candidate is correct.

If you want to really make sure that a candidate is right for you, reference checking in detail could save you a big headache in the long run.  Use these tips to make sure that you uncover the real truth when you check references:

1. Additional references 

Request additional references that you can call from the candidate. People like co-workers and managers who are outside the list that they have provided.  If the candidate responds with a no and only wants you to call the people on the list, this may indicate a further issue. Otherwise from your conversation you can gauge some of the likely people that you can call.

2. DIY

Don’t delegate this important task to someone who may not be as familiar with the role as you are. This is a definite do it yourself area of the hiring process.

3. Don’t be in a rush

Before calling someone for a reference clear some time on your schedule to make sure that you have the time to ask the probing questions that you really need to ask.

4. Open minded approach

Clear your mind of any bias before you make the call. Don’t have an expected outcome in your mind and be open to what you are told. Listen carefully to what is said to make sure that you are in a position to uncover important details about the candidate.

5. Persistence

Some people that you talk to will be reluctant to give you any meaningful information about your candidate. Sometimes you need to be a little politely persistent to get the information that you need and convince them that it is a good idea to be open and honest about the person you are thinking of hiring.

6. Take notes

Don’t think that you will be able to remember everything after the call. Take detailed notes that will help you with your decision making afterwards.

7. Be prepared

Have a basic list of questions ready before you make the call. Make sure that they are written down so that you don’t forget to ask something. Use this list as a guide and ask additional questions depending on the conversation and the information that you are given.


Leigh Grigaliunas

Leigh is an owner and co-founder of School Hours Pty Ltd.Leigh's passion for helping others coupled with his desire to achieve a balance between raising children and earning a living, lead him to create School Hours Pty Ltd with his wife Yasmin.School Hours will be the place to go for Australian parents wanting to connect with progressive thinking, family friendly employers.

Latest posts by Leigh Grigaliunas (see all)