How To Check Candidate References

Checking a candidate’s references can be a time consuming, but essential part of the recruitment process. While interviews will reveal a lot about your potential hires, reference checks are key in gaining further insight into a candidate’s experience, abilities and reliability.

So we’ve put together the following tips to help you make the most of your reference checks.

Speak to the right person

Wherever possible, try to speak to a candidate’s line manager or direct supervisor as part of the reference check. The HR department will be able to provide information such as the candidate’s start and end dates with the company, and whether they were given any formal disciplinaries.

But because HR won’t have had the same level of day-to-day contact with the candidate as their line manager, speaking to a supervisor is essential for obtaining insight into their performance and ability.

Personal references may be acceptable for candidates applying for their first job straight of education, but asking for a teacher or tutor’s contact details will often be more advantageous when asking for a reference.

Plan effective questions

When you contact someone for a reference, be sure to have a handful of questions planned ahead of time that will allow you to obtain valuable information about the candidate. In addition to asking about start and end dates, job title and responsibilities, discussing the following topics can help you get a good feel for the type of employee your candidate is:

  • What are their main strengths?
  • What are their collaboration skills like? Did they mostly work alone or with a team?
  • What additional training do you think they could benefit from?
  • Are they dependable?
  • How well do they manage their time and workload?
  • Would you hire them again?

Asking questions around a candidate’s performance in their previous roles will enable you to gain an understanding of which aspects of the role they may be the most successful in and which they may not suitable for. But be sure to remain mindful about the questions you ask - the same discrimination laws apply to reference checks as to interviewing. Do not ask references for any personal information about the candidate and if there are any questions you are unsure about, it is always a good idea to review your reference checking processes with your legal team or an external recruitment specialist.

Consult a specialist

When it comes to carrying out effective reference checks, a specialist recruitment agency is best equipped to make sure you obtain all the information you need to make an informed decision on a candidate.

Checking candidate references can take up a lot of your HR team’s, or your, time so engaging a recruitment agency who will manage the process for you can take a lot of the weight off. Your recruitment consultant will get to know the vacancy and everything you need to know from their references and ensure that this information is gathered in a time-effective and legally compliant way.

And if you are hiring temporary workers, we will have checked each candidate’s references when we put them forward for the job to ensure they have the work experience, training and qualifications required for the role - saving you time and resources on recruitment.

XCL are experts at supplying skilled, experienced candidates for both temporary and permanent positions. Specialising in the automotive, construction, engineering, production and commercial sectors, your dedicated consultant will work tirelessly to make sure you find the best people for your vacancies.

If you’d like to discuss your future recruitment requirements, or if you have a vacancy you need to fill right now, call the Huddersfield office on 01484 819900 or email and we’ll be happy to help.