Is Reference Checking Obsolete?

While social media has seemingly made reference checking obsolete, many organizations still regularly perform this once-critical step in the hiring process. But should you?

The truth about reference checking.


Many companies still ask for references, but they might not be conducting real reference checks. Some companies use them simply to verify employment. Others ask for references as a sort of protocol or natural step in the process, without following up on them. But those companies are missing out on a valuable hiring tool.

Reference checking can still be incredibly useful to hiring managers. Its value lies in the fact that:

  • It offers additional insights. In today’s job market, candidates are extremely prepared for the online searches hiring managers conduct. So much so, that they often prepare a well crafted social media and online presence. While this can definitely give you great insight into a candidate’s professionalism and communication skills, reference checks can offer additional insight into how a candidate performs on the job, or about specific personality traits you wouldn’t gather from a well-crafted online presence.
  • It can protect you. While social media offers great opportunity for research on candidates, it also comes with potential liability concerns over protected information. While reference checking isn’t without it’s own liability concerns, it still offers a formal process for gathering specific information, versus social media – where you could inadvertently be exposed to protected information that could compromise your hiring decisions. (Hint: Get more information on protected data and its impact on the hiring process here).
  • It can help differentiate. Some employers may look at reference checking as a validation step – the last step in the process before making a hire. This outlook can cause you to miss out on incredibly helpful data sources in the hiring process. The right questions and insights can help you differentiate between candidates and benchmark skills against job descriptions.

Reference checking can be an incredibly helpful tool in the hiring process – but it has to be done correctly for the best results (and for liability protection). Here at Helpmates, we conduct professional reference checks that offer you the insights you need with our experienced, professional recruiting staff. Contact us today to learn more about our extensive staffing services for Southern California.

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Conduct More Effective Job Interviews

Interviewing can be hard. For HR professionals and recruiters, it can be a challenge, but for managers and other professionals who don’t ordinarily conduct job interviews, it can be terrifying. Yet, effective job interviews are critical for making good hires and retaining top talent.

You can conduct more effective job interviews.

job interviews

Understanding interviewing basics provides you with a solid start, but to conduct truly effective job interviews you need skills beyond the basics. Here are three types of questions to ask that will get you better candidate insights:

  • Behavioral questions. Behavioral questions are gaining in popularity because they offer insights into how employees would act in real-world situations. Working several behavioral questions into your job interviews can help you determine which candidates are more likely to succeed in your real-world working environment.
  • Purpose-based questions. In a world where 80% of employees are unhappy in their jobs, employee retention is a critical problem facing HR departments. One of the most important keys to retention is hiring the right people. Purpose-based questions revolve around “Why” – Why you get up in the morning, what keeps you motivated and drives you throughout the day. Purpose-based questions can help you identify candidates who are aligned with your mission and purpose. Employees who are more likely to be happy working for you – and more likely to stay with you long term.
  • Open-ended questions. Have you ever been in a conversation punctuated by one-word responses? They never really go anywhere, and they certainly aren’t very interesting! In job interviews, yes or no questions offer little to no insight into the candidate. Don’t fall into the trap of asking easy questions.  Instead, focus on open-ended questions that require a candidate to formulate well thought-out responses. These six examples offer a good start.

The talented recruiting professionals at Helpmates have extensive experience conducting job

interviews with a range of professionals. Using these questions and other skills gained during years of experience, our team finds only the most talented and qualified professionals to meet your staffing needs. To learn more, check out our client resources or contact us today.

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