Reference Checks


According to an article that recently appeared in the Job Market section of The New York Times, more and more companies are outsourcing services that used to be provided by full-time staff of Human Resource Departments.  Generally speaking, outsourcing H.R. services can help a company cut costs, but there is a point beyond which outsourcing does a disservice to employees who have questions or problems that relate to individual personnel issues, career development, or training issues and require one-on-one interaction with an
H.R. professional.

One area, however, that can be successfully outsourced is conducting reference checking on candidates for employment.  Because of the training and skill reference checking requires, however, it ordinarily can’t be done by the typical low-skilled call-center employee.

Successfully outsourcing reference checking to a firm that specializes in this service offers several advantages over requiring internal H.R. staff to conduct a reference check skillfully.  First, outsourcing reference checking brings a measure of objectivity to the hiring process that may not be there if an internal recruiter is doing both the interviewing and the reference checking.  As we at Barada have contended for years, it’s almost impossible for a recruiter doing the interviewing not to form subliminal opinions about a candidate based on factors that really should have no bearing on the hiring decision.  For example, the recruiter and the candidate may just “hit it off” from the beginning.  Or the personalities of the recruiter and the candidate may just happen to mesh for reasons neither party may recognize.  The result can be a decision to skip the reference checking altogether because the recruiter “liked” the candidate, which can easily lead to a poor hiring decision.  By outsourcing reference checking to a third party firm, like Barada Associates, far more objectivity is assured.  We don’t meet the candidates, so our opinions aren’t colored by whether we “like” the individual or not, which makes it easier to illicit objective information from references.  Put another way, it really doesn’t matter to us if the candidate is hired or not, but what does matter is whether or not the employer hires the right candidate for the job – the first time.  So objectivity is a major advantage to outsourcing reference checking.

A second advantage is the fact that reference and background checking is all we do – it is our area of expertise.  With 33 years of experience in this highly specialized field, our associates are experts at obtaining truly useful information about a candidate’s past job performance and suitability for the position to be filled.

Finally, a third reason to outsource reference checking is the savings in time and money to the employer.  By using Barada Associates, internal H.R. staff can be utilized for other tasks.  Our turnaround time is typically 3 to 5 business days to complete a reference report because our associates aren’t distracted by other demands that may be required of an H.R. generalist.

So, in summary, while it may not make sense to outsource every H.R. function, particularly those which require the interaction between an employee and a member of the H.R. staff, outsourcing reference checking makes good sense in terms of objectivity, professionalism, and saving time and money.