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The importance of reference checking during the hiring process

As a company, it is important to be aware of the process and the correct steps that should be taken when employing someone new.
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Hiring more people within a company no matter the size can be a lot of effort, waste a lot of time and cost a lot of money so it is important to do it right, which means reference checking.

As a large company, it is often the case that there will be an in-house HR team or outsourced company to deal with new employment and reference checking. As a smaller company it is likely the managing director or office managers handle the process themselves. Companies are at risk of losing a great deal of money from not following the correct employment process.

When a company takes the first step in hiring a new employee, they will have to review each application to determine whether the candidate has the right skills, qualifications and experience needed for the position. It is then the deciding person’s job to separate the applications into those who will be asked to attend an interview or rejected. Some, however, may be kept on file for an extended period of time.

If there are a few candidates selected for the interview stage, there will often be a step taken before in order to test the candidate for their knowledge or skills they have stated they have. For example, if someone has stated that they have good written skills, they are often asked to send an example of their writing. Once this is submitted, it will then be narrowed down to the next stage.

The interview stage will be when the job seeker and employer meet to evaluate whether the candidate fulfils the requirements of role. This also gives the employer the opportunity to decide whether the candidate fulfils other requirements that the company might look for, e.g. timeliness, manners, confidence, personal hygiene and presentation.

Based on the results of the interview stage, the candidate will then be narrowed down even further. If candidates come out on par in both their skills and interview it is likely it will be put down to either qualifications or experience.

Once candidates have been selected and it is narrowed down to the final few, the next step is one of the most important. Reference checking can determine what previous employers think about the person you are considering hiring and joining the rest of your team. Many companies often miss out the referencing, because if you hire a lot of people it can be a long-winded and difficult job.

Previous employers will know how that person works and how they fitted into a team of work colleagues before. So, reference checking gives companies the best opportunity to gauge what that person will be like in a work environment.

The risks of not following the above steps to reference checking can be a burden on the company as a whole. If someone is employed, however, and it turns out that they do not meet the expectations first thought when they went through the interview process, it can waste a lot of time and money.

Simon Houlton is MD at software provider I Screen You Screen

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