Recruitment 101: Six tips to help you get the most out of personal reference checks

Simangele Mzizi, Fsp Business, 21 Oct. 2014

Tags: conducting reference checks, reference checks, personal reference checks, tips for conducting reference checks

You can’t hire an applicant without first contacting the candidate’s previous employers to check his job history and work experience so you know you’re hiring the right person for the job.

Reference checking is a form of insurance for you before you make a candidate an offer.

But how do you ensure this all important process is effective?

Here are six tips you can use to get the most out of personal reference checks.

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The A-Z of legal recruitment

  • Did you know there are 11 legal requirements for recruitment?
  • Do you know how the Employment Equity Act affects your job advertisement?
  • Do you know what checks you can legally conduct on an applicant?
  • Are you sure your employment contract includes the 16 clauses the law says you must have?

If you don’t have all of these aspects correct, you’ll be on the wrong side of the law when it comes to your recruitment process.



Get the most out of personal reference checks by using these six effective tips

Tip #1: The Practical Guide to Human Resources Management says, before you start with your reference checks, make sure the candidate’s current or recent employer is listed as a reference. If not, ask the employee why.
If her reference is her current employer and this person doesn’t know she’s looking for another job, this is a legitimate reason – you can speak to other references.
Tip #2: Be cautious if the only references are from long ago. For example, a school principal or teacher and there are no current references. If references are from long ago, it’s unlikely you’ll get useful information about the candidate.
Tip #3: Be aware that references from friends or family members are less likely to be objective.
Tip #4: When you call the referee and he opens the conversation with the “no reference policy”, let him know that this is purely a work-related reference, it’s highly confidential and you won’t discuss it with anyone. Emphasise discretion and confidentiality.
Tip #5: Never ask closed-ended questions, always ask open-ended ones so the referee will open up and give you useful information.
Tip #6: Ask questions that are related to the candidate’s CV and the job requirements. If you cross the line, you’ll be guilty of violating the candidate’s rights.
Use these six tips to get the most out of personal reference checks.
PS: For more information on reference checks and recruitment, check out Recruitment: The Complete Guide.

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