The Four W's of Reference Checking

The Four W's of Reference Checking

The Four W's of Reference Checking

The first few months of 2015 have flown by in a whirlwind of recruitment and employment branding activity. It has been great to bring some awesome brands to the market this year to attract the best talent for their teams. We continue to innovate along the way and are always on the lookout for new ways to attract talent and manage the recruitment process.
One area of recruitment that to be honest is not innovative and I can’t see that changing in the short term is the good old honest reference check. I believe this process still very much has it’s part to play in recruiting top talent. Regardless of how much you can research candidates on social media and the web, there is nothing quite like actually speaking to someone first hand about that person.

So, our four W’s of reference checking:

What is a reference check, well it should be a list of questions although we recommend that you alter those questions or add to them as you go if you want to probe something further. And it should be with someone who can impartially talk about the candidate. Usually a previous boss, but in some instances a colleague, a consultant or a client.

We see it as a final check / opportunity to find out from previous employers the best way to manage the person. This can give you some great tips for ensuring your working relationship is a great one.

Really wherever, usually done over the phone, you could skype, you could even meet for a coffee. Our only suggestion is make sure you actually speak to the person rather than rely on a written reference.

My personal preference is to reference after the 2nd or 3rd interview, when you are getting pretty close to taking the person on. Some might prefer to do it earlier, but in my mind only one out of every 50 reference checks mean you don’t hire the person at all if you have probed and asked the right questions in the lead up interviews. Don’t do it after offering, an offer subject to references is not a real offer.

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Mike Westbury

Mike owns the business and delivers innovative recruitment campaigns to his clients. He enjoys working in a niche environment where each client's needs can be tailored to. Mike comes from an extensive recruitment and solution selling background, having previously worked for a large global consultancy and a number of New Zealand owned firms. Outside of work, he can be found playing with his two young kids or getting out for a surf or a sail when time allows!

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