How to check someone's references

Jan 15, 2022

There are many steps in the recruitment process. But it's when the recruiter puts on his detective suit that you realize he's about to move to the next level: reference checking. With his phone and computer, this is the moment when he will go fishing for information to verify certain information on the CV, but also try to go further to avoid making a mistake in one’s choices. A mistake in recruitment would cost an average of 45,000 euros. Checking references is therefore an opportunity to better understand the candidate's skills (hard and soft skills) and personality by interviewing former employers, and sometimes former office mates. But be careful: there are some rules.

Reference checking is regulated by law

First of all, even if you are a detective (at least for a while), not everything is allowed. It would be a very bad idea to act without the candidate's knowledge. Especially since there is a good chance that he will find out. Not the best way to start a collaboration.

Secondly, in France, reference checking is regulated by law. The French Labor Code specifies that "any employer wishing to inquire about a candidate's references must first ask for his or her authorization" (articles L.1221-8 and L.1221-9). The candidate must therefore give his or her consent in writing, specifying the contact details of the persons who may be contacted.

It requires a method

No generalities. To get the information you need, you must be specific in your requests. A question such as "talk about candidate X" does not help, except to remain in the dark. You need to bounce around to the accomplishments listed, for example, on the resume. This could be: "Candidate X has taken part in the creation of your website. What exactly was his role in the project? "

Other examples:

- Can you verify the candidate's job, title, salary and responsibilities? Why did they leave that job?

- What makes this person the right candidate for the job?

- If you had the opportunity, would you rehire this candidate? Why or why not?

- What are his or her areas for improvement?

- Did the candidate get along well with colleagues and management?

- How did he/she handle conflict? What about pressure? How about stress?

- How do they make decisions?

- What advice can you give me to successfully manage the candidate?

It takes time

Reference checking requires preparation and focus. The exchange with the ex-employer generally lasts 15 to 30 minutes, multiplied by the number of people to be interviewed. Not to mention the time spent making the initial contact, obtaining the contact information of the person you are interviewing if you don't already have it, setting up an appointment with him or her, etc. And then, you must also cross-reference the information obtained with other sources. Especially, if the answers are unanimously positive, or on the contrary entirely negative. In this case, be wary. In any case, it is always better to do everything possible to confirm the quality of the answers obtained. A visit to social networks, starting with LinkedIn, is nowadays an almost compulsory step. This will add to the time clock.

Call in a specialist

For all these reasons, and in order to obtain the most accurate results, it may be wise to call upon a specialist in reference checking such as Refty. This tool allows the recruiter to request up to 6 references per candidate in just a few clicks. They can then monitor the progress of all the references collected from a dashboard. Within 72 hours, a summary of these references is available on the recruiter's space. This saves precious time in the recruitment process, minimizes the risk of error during hiring and facilitates the on-boarding of the new employee into the company thanks to all the information collected.

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