What to Listen for When Checking Candidate References

You know you need to check references. And overtly negative ones are clearly an indication to think twice about a particular candidate. However, what are some other, more subtle signs you should be looking – and listening – for when it comes to this critical part of the hiring process? As a leading staffing services firm in Central Connecticut, Stewart Staffing has the answers you need. Here are some do’s and don’ts to help you:

Don’t put too much weight on inflection or tone of voice.

The reference might be busy or distracted. Or they could be a more low-key person who doesn’t display a lot of enthusiasm. That’s why, when you’re talking to a candidate’s reference, it’s more important to focus on the facts and content of what they’re saying, rather than how they’re saying it.

Do consider how quick they are to respond.

If you ask a question and there’s a lot of long, awkward pauses, or “ums” and “ahs,” then it could be a warning sign that the reference is trying to walk a tightrope. This can often indicate a reluctance to say something negative, even when there are red flags that you should be aware of.

Do consider whether they were informed.

If you catch a reference completely off guard, it’s not a good sign. References should know you’re calling and be prepared to speak about the candidate’s background, work experience and personality. If, instead, they tell you they’re not the right person to talk to, then it doesn’t paint the candidate in a positive light.

Do listen for discrepancies.

You’ve read the candidate’s resume and likely interviewed them multiple times. Make sure you have the information you gleaned handy so you can check it against what the reference says. This includes the basics, like job titles and dates, as well as duties and accomplishments. If there is a variance, don’t assume the worst. Ask the candidate about it.

Do let the reference talk openly.

When it comes to checking references, you should be letting the other person do most of the talking. Don’t talk over them or try to guide their answers. Instead, ask the questions and then really listen to what they’re saying. If you aren’t getting the details you need, dig deeper with follow up questions.

Need more help finding great-fit candidates for your job openings?

As a leading staffing services firm in Central Connecticut, Stewart Staffing can handle the job from start to finish, including sourcing, screening, and reference checking candidates. You can focus on other priorities, while we handle many of the aspects of hiring. Contact us today to learn more.

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