The whole point not only of careful reference checking but also of the entire pre-employment process is to avoid getting burned by a bad hiring decision.  To reduce the chances of getting burned, here are some useful tips:

  • Before the reference checking process begins, have a realistic sense of exactly what the requirements of the job will be – not just what the official “job description” says, but what the job is really
  • Think through what the corporate culture is like. Identifying the corporate culture simply means doing some honest reflection on how things work within the organization, and looking at how “political” people orbit within it to get things done.  This will help make an objective assessment of the company’s predominant leadership style and therefore help facilitate better hiring decisions.
  • As part of the reference checking exercise, specifically ask references for their opinions on how the candidate will fit into the job as it really is, not how it is officially defined.
  • There is one other tip to keep in mind. Reference checking is not a guarantee of making foolproof hiring decisions.  Reference checking is a piece of the process.  Other key components of the hiring process should not be overlooked.  Careful resume verification and job application screening, plus carefully structured job interviews, are all of equal importance.