At first blush, one might think that the only apparent benefit of careful reference checking is to evaluate a candidate’s past job performance. Of course, that’s part of it; but there are other, not so apparent, benefits to careful reference checking.
The second benefit is comparing past job performance with the requirements of the job to be filled. We all need to understand that no two jobs are ever exactly alike. The title of the position, even the job descriptions may be exactly alike, but the reality is that there will be slight differences in the jobs because different people and personalities are involved. It’s also very likely that there will be different corporate cultures.
The third benefit of reference checking is using the results to come up with a career development plan for the candidate once the hiring decision is made. This is one of the most valuable, but one of the most often overlooked, benefits of careful reference checking. One of the key questions to ask every reference is, “What do you think the candidate needs to do to continue his/her professional growth and career development?” This is the question that will enable you to begin building a career development plan, either in the near-term or over time. This third benefit is built on the premise that we are perfect and that there will always be areas where improvement can be made and things that can be done to enhance overall career growth – and enhance the candidate’s overall value to the organization.