How To Get The Most Out Of a Reference Check
So, first off, let’s talk about how to get the best out of a regular reference. Here are our key tips for talking to a reference over the phone:
- Make the reference feel comfortable. Your conversation shouldn’t feel like an interrogation- more like a simple chat. If you can encourage them to open up, you’ll get a much clearer picture of what your candidate is really like.
- Let the conversation flow, but stick to a structure. What we mean is that there should be key signposts throughout your talk: confirming the candidate’s previous employment, dates of employment, asking about their character, how likely they would be to recommend the candidate and so on.
- Don’t ever stick with one. Always follow through and call every reference available to you; the candidate’s conduct at one business may have been great, but lousy at another. You never know what you might find out.
That’s all great, but we’re still in the basics here. We have to start thinking outside traditional references, and conducting a more thorough check, especially if the role is a senior/important one.
Going Beyond References Checks
Tech gives us the opportunity to find out far more than we used to be able to about candidates. You can sometimes find out far more about a candidate through your own research than what a reference is willing to tell you!
Research Through Social Media
Controversial, but effective, research through social media is an excellent way to check for what a reference can’t tell you. You might have heard that this is actually illegal. It most definitely isn’t, although you do have to make sure to stay compliant: it’s the exact same as any other recruitment process.
Long story short, you’re entitled to look at a candidate’s social media profile, but you can’t use any information related to protected characteristics to disqualify a candidate. These are defined by the Equality Act 2010, and refer to the following:
- gender reassignment
- marriage and civil partnership
- pregnancy and maternity
- religion or belief
- sexual orientation
By contrast, general observations on a candidate’s character are perfectly fine. This opens the door to being able to check a candidate’s Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn to do two things: assess their character, and determine whether they were completely honest in their CV. This can help you weed out candidates quickly and effectively.
Mine Your Own References
Next up, you’re also entitled to search for your own references on a candidate. You can do this in any number of ways: asking provided references for more references, searching through Facebook or LinkedIn, searching for and contacting their previous employers- any way you like. With social media and Google search by your side, it’s now much easier to dig up references that you couldn’t before.
Not only can you use Google search to look for more references, but you’re also perfectly entitled to search for candidates on there, too. This can help you find out much more about them, and is especially useful if you’re recruiting for a high-profile position. The number of resignations and sackings lately over inappropriate behaviour, past scandals and more is shocking- you can avoid that by learning more about any candidate you come across through Google.
Managing Reference Information & Compliance
But like all things recruitment, you have to think about compliance. Like we said above, you have to make sure that everything you do- whether it’s talking to a reference over the phone, or checking a candidate’s Facebook- is above board and legal. That’s where CRMs come in. With a CRM, you can perfectly manage all of your data, and create a digital trail to back up your readiness to comply with regulations.
The main way that CRMs help with compliance is by helping you keep note of anything and everything. With candidate tracking, you can:
- Track any time that you contact a candidate
- Keep a note of where they are in the hiring process
- Keep a note of any information you have on them that might be useful to you
With an integrated CRM platform, it’s as simple as highlighting a piece of info or taking a screenshot, and having it automatically save to their profile.
Having all of your data in one place is also great for compliance in another way: making sure that you process data in compliance with GDPR. If any data subject ever asks to know exactly what data you have on them, or asks you to delete it, it’s as simple as a thirty second check in your CRM. No more digging through email chains or fishing ancient CVs from forgotten filing cabinets for you!
That’s about it, although there’s one last point to make: there’s nothing that beats old fashioned detective work. If it seems like a reference might be leading you on, or lying to you about a certain aspect of the candidate’s background, do a thorough check. You never know what you might find.