There’s no question that establishing a consistent reference and background checking program is a very important thing to do. Here are the steps I recommend, regardless of whether the company is small or large:
- Review every application and carry out the necessary background checks to ensure the candidate is who he claims to be. Then do the initial face-to-face interview.
- Next, do a job performance-based reference check on the top one or two candidates. It’s obviously not necessary to do a reference check on every candidate!
- After the finished reference reports have been carefully read and reviewed, follow up with an in-depth interview, which should include addressing any concerns contained in the reference report.
- Hold a final interview with the candidate – and include the person to whom the candidate will report. (If time is a critical issue, this step and the previous one can be combined into one interview.)
- Make the final hiring decision.
One optional approach would be to carry out all the preceding steps – and then do the reference checking as the final step in the process before making a job offer. My personal preference, however, is to use the reference report as a guide for conducting the final interview – the candidate will know with whom you’ve talked since he supplied the appropriate references in the first place.