One of the most difficult things about selecting a new member of staff through the interview process is that you may not know for certain whether your new employee will really be able to deliver on the job. Applicants may have excellent CVs – and look good on paper – but will your new staff member gel with the other members of your staff, and how reliable and trustworthy is the person? To help you decide the answer to these questions, you should insist on referrals from every job applicant you interview.
When to Ask For Referrals
As a rule, you should mention specifically in the job ad you place that all applicants provide written referrals from their previous employers. If you are dealing with first-time applicants like university graduates, a letter from a lecturer or academic supervisor should be requested. Every reference should contain contact details of a specific person the applicant has worked for in his or her previous jobs, so that you can contact the person and ask a few questions about applicants you are considering for the job.
Double Checking Referrals
Unfortunately, there will always be job applicants who are less than honest when writing their CVs and submitting referrals. Although these people tend to be in the minority, it does mean that employers have to check referrals very carefully just as qualifications must be checked before an applicant is given a job interview.
If an applicant’s CV seems suitable to the position you are advertising, you should check that the referrals they have provided are genuine. This is a two-step process:
- Check that the referral is genuine – call the person who wrote the referral and ask a few questions about the applicant’s competence, honesty, and reliability
- Check that the referral is legitimate – make sure that the person who wrote the referral is really who they say they are. You can do this by doing an internet search on the person or browsing their company website.
Believe it or not, quite a few applicants will provide false referrals from time to time. By checking on the referrals in a discreet way, you’ll be able to confirm that the applicant is an honest and ethical person.
Before You Write a Referral
If you are asked to write a referral for an employee who is moving on, be sure that you don’t provide any information which stretches the truth about your former employee’s abilities or virtues. By writing honest referrals, all employers will help to create an ethical business environment in the long run, where the word of one employer or manager can be fully trusted by another.