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Reference Checking... Is it really that important?!

Reference Checking... Is it really that important?!

Posted on 9/09/2019 by Breeanna Noske

Reference checking

I mean, who would provide the details of a referee who would give anything but a GLOWING reference anyway, right? Is reference checking really that worthwhile?


It absolutely SHOCKS us when we speak with candidates and clients who have had their own “non-Entrée” experiences and find out that this crucial step is often skipped.

You’ve all read our blog speaking about how we, unlike 80% of firms, do not use an Applicant Tracking System (if not, read here). And another piece of information we recently learned is that apparently not all shortlisted candidates, and in some instances not all OFFERED candidates, are being reference checked. And if they are, the process is not nearly thorough enough.

Entrée Recruitment will absolutely guarantee that every candidate sitting in front of you for a job interview has been

  • phone screened;
  • behaviourally interviewed in-person (unless geographically impossible);
  • computer skills tested (where relevant); and
  • referenced checked!

You will even, within a permanent exclusive recruitment campaign, possess a neat little report consisting of their CV, reference check, skills testing results, salary expectations, notice period and interview notes written lovingly by your Recruitment Consultant. And your preferred candidate? Reference checked again after your interview.

If you are receiving anything less than that, then you are not recruiting through Entrée Recruitment. (And hey, why aren’t you? Come join us!)

Even for temporary placements… EVEN FOR 3 HOUR PLACEMENTS… we do not even recommend a candidate to you without having spoken to a referee.

How do we ensure the reference checking process is worthwhile?

  • We insist on speaking with direct former managers. No colleagues, no personal/character referees. Only the reporting manager.
  • We ask a large number of questions and do more than just confirm employment details.
  • We type out referee responses verbatim so you can read them for yourself (yes, our Consultants have very fast typing fingers!)
  • We speak to referees personally and via telephone.

The recruitment industry has seen a rise in email-based reference checking systems of late. We’ve received many a sales call from such companies, and have even received these emails as referees ourselves:

Dear [insert name here],

[Job applicant] has nominated you as a referee. Please complete this online feedback within 24 hours. If you do not respond in the allocated time, we will contact the next listed referee”

Here are our issues with email-based reference checking (yep, get ready for another list):

  • One standard set of questions can not be relevant to every role or every candidate
  • Follow up questions can not be asked to obtain clarification
  • Tone and inferences cannot be interpreted
  • Written responses are pre-prepared and drafted as opposed to verbal reference checks facilitating frank, open and honest conversation
  • The readiness to progress through to the next “hierarchical” referee means the most appropriate person may not be providing the feedback
  • In our opinion, email reference checks are likely more susceptible to fraud

We could go on. But essentially, the takeaway message is that you need to ensure your Recruiter is conducting reference checks PRIOR to your meeting with shortlisted candidates. Why waste your time interviewing a candidate whom a referee might indicate is not the best fit for your role – that’s the purpose of having outsourced your recruitment needs, right? To save your time and effort?

And what’s the easiest way to ensure you are meeting appropriately pre-screened and pre-assessed candidates? Recruit with Entrée Recruitment!