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The Value of Reference Checking

The Dallas/Fort Worth startup community is bursting at the seams and has done a phenomenal job of engaging the right people within the community. One of the biggest decisions that business leaders must make is the recruitment and selection of employees, with the growth to this point having been fueled by local references and recommendations. As the community enters it’s “growth phase,” it will need to go much further than our own backyard for quality talent.

Claudio Fernandez-Araoz, an executive search consultant, shared his insight in regards to reference checking in a post with the Harvard Business Review this week, stressing the value of checking references to ensure the best hire possible.

It is suggested that the applicant provide references from former bosses, subordinates and peers to attest to their skill level. The hiring manager needs to coax an honest reflection from the references for the applicant while recognizing that they may be reluctant to speak openly and honestly due to fear of litigation. Fernandez-Araoz suggests that reference checks involve sharing with the references the details of the job to be performed and asking them to offer their assessment of the qualities of the applicant to perform those duties.

If it sounds to the hiring manager that the applicant has the skillset to perform the functions of the job, it is beneficial to ask about their social and emotional-intelligence, as well as their values and cultural fit. According to Frenandez-Araoz, these “soft” skills are just as important as the “hard” ones, such as experience. Finally, it is valuable to ask the referee how the applicant learns and grows on the job, with this being the best indicator of the applicant’s true potential.

Hiring can be an overwhelming, complicated and stressful experience with a lot of time and money dedicated to selecting a team that is competent, qualified and able to jump in as an effective team member. As the Dallas/Fort Worth startup community grows and recruitment expands outside of the region, having the ability to perform quality reference checks will help to ensure low turnover and high-quality employees.

Photo by Pixabay

Blog post by: Harmony Tapper