The woods are full of all kinds of tools that are designed to help employers make good hiring decisions. The most prevalent is the structured job interview, which is a key way to help select the top choices for the job to be filled. Others include a wide variety of paper-and-pencil aptitude and personality tests that measure just about any human quality or characteristic one can name. A variety of drug screening tests are also available. Outside search firms supposedly provide insight into the skills and potential of the job candidate they’re trying to place with an employer. And then there are background checks and reference checking.
I firmly believe that carefully evaluating past job performance is the best way to predict future job performance. Careful reference checking carries with it four distinct benefits:
- It provides an in-depth look at past job performance.
- It allows the prospective employer to evaluate how the candidate’s skills, experience, training, education, and overall performance fit the requirements of the job to be filled.
- If done properly, it highlights areas in which the candidate can improve or gain additional experience that will increase his value to the employer.
- It clearly demonstrates that reasonable care was consistently and fairly used in the employee selection process.
Because there are so many tools that provide useful insight into particularly areas that will help with the identification of the best candidate for the particular job to be filled, employers can actually “tailor” the best set of tools to use in each employment situation. But, regardless of the tools selected, I believe background and reference checking should always be part of the package.