Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Reference Checks - part 2

This needs repeating so I am going to......

Did you know that reference checks have a predictive accuracy of 13% but are used in 96% of all hiring decisions? To put that into perspective, checking reference can predict performance at about the same rates as astrology and self-assessment.

References, in my experience, tell you the more about what the referee is like. Truly, I usually learn more about the person I am calling than the person I am calling about. Also, they can be full of "I can't recall" and "you should ask someone else" since many people use referees from many years back or referees they have never had a significant relationship with.

Take charge of your references so that they help you get that job!

1. Ensure you keep track of your great relationships. Do you know where your boss in 2005 is today? Try keeping the relationships going after you part ways by sending Christmas cards, email, including them in social media, or buy a few beers every once and a while.

2. Use quality referees only, people that have very good view of all your work behaviours including attendance, project results, teamwork, and interpersonal skills. Often, a referee from another city can not do this...

3. Prepare your referees with the job ad you applied to, the resume you applied with and some of the interview questions your were asked. This can get the referees prepared to match what you did to what the hiring manager needs

4. Go a step higher and give your referees a list of accomplishments while you worked together, complete with what you did, why you did it, who you did it with, and what the results were. These can be great memory recalls for a referee who has many employees, a short memory, or if it has been a few years. If they want to use some of these examples, the answers will be well developed.

5. Don't burn any bridges unless you are a damn good swimmer! Recent bosses will be the best referees so make sure your performance is great & make sure you exit the company gracefully.

Most people leave checking their references to chance. Be different, take control, and reap the rewards.  And hey, you never know - referees could be a great source of jobs opportunities!


  1. Good advice Jason. My instinct fully agrees with your opening assessment and personally, as a hiring manager, I only use references to uncover concerns.

    Is there a literature reference you could share regarding the statistics you present?


  2. Craig,

    The numbers I have are straight from University textbooks, citing multiple researchers. Below is a link to a practical source, a free chapter of a book published by CIPD, the National Human Resources Association in the UK. There are lots of other great tips and tricks for managers in the article as well. If the link does not work well. let me know and I can email you the .pdf