Reference Checking Questions You Should be Asking

Ask the right reference checking questions

Reference Checking Questions You Should be Asking

“The ability to ask the right questions is more than half the battle of finding the answer.”

- Thomas J. Watson, ex-CEO and Chairman of IBM

In this article, we will try and tackle the topic of reference questions for new hires. We will also talk about the process of reference checking after the interview. When it comes to reference checks and reference checking questions, people either love them or hate them. On the one hand, you have those who view reference checking as a means of uncovering the candidate’s abilities. It can be a tool to find out work history and even personality traits in some cases. On the other hand, some believe it to be not worth the time. Reference checks can feel like a waste of time when there is no proper structure or procedure in place. A lot of the time, you will end up with a list of references from the candidates who turn out to be their friends or other personal references. As expected, they will of course advocate for how great the candidate is.

Now, when a reference check is done right, it can be a vital tool in the recruitment process. It helps you make informed decisions about the people you hire. So, to help mitigate the negative aspects of this argument and help you get the most out of this process, we bring you this blog. We will talk about the people who would make the best references. We will also go over the best reference checking questions that you should be asking to get the information that you need.

Talking to the Right References: Reach Out via the Candidate

One of the best ways to get the ideal references is to ask the candidate to provide them. Ask the candidate for the names and numbers of their previous employer. Now, if they are yet to resign and are looking for a job, they obviously might not want you to get in touch for job safety reasons. You should respect that. Rather, ask for the contact number of a manager from a previous role. This is more than fair to both parties.

This is where it gets interesting. Depending on whether they are evasive or helpful, you will get a clear reading of what kind of employee they might be. On top of all this, the candidate might be the right person to put you in touch with their previous employers as they have a well-established relationship with them. These references might be more willing to chat if they believe that it would help a former colleague.

Reference checking questions
A candidate's achievements at their previous job can tell you a lot about their work ethic.

Asking the Right Reference Checking Questions

Once you have the right references, make sure to let them know about the confidentiality factor of the process. This is crucial if you want them to be honest and open with their answers. Tell them that no matter how glaring or glowing their feedback is, it all stays confidential. Here are the best reference checking questions you should be asking.

Question 1: What was the working relationship between you and the candidate?

Start the conversation off in a light manner, ease them into it. You don’t want to hit them with all the reference checking questions at once. This question will also allow you to start cross-checking basic information. You can verify things like the candidate’s title, responsibilities and other things they might have already told you.

Question 2: Did the candidate have any major accomplishments while working with you?

To a certain extent, this is another one of those reference checking questions that will help ease the reference’s mind. It serves a purpose beyond just validating any major milestones that the candidate may have had. This question stands as a reminder that the reference checking process is not built just to catch out candidates. It is an opportunity to learn more about the person behind the resume. So you can understand what exactly they bring to the table.

Question 3: What are some of his/her greatest strengths in your opinion?

This question is one designed for calibration beyond just the average understanding of skill sets. What we mean by this is that the answer to this question will tell you how well things line up with the initial rounds of interview, the candidate’s resume as well as their work samples. You will have a chance to see how the responses line up with the candidate’s self-assessment. This indicates self-awareness, with which you can calibrate the other answers you get. Essentially, does the reference’s assessment of the candidate line up with what the candidate thinks of their strengths?

Question 4: What were some areas of concern that you think stand out as red flags?

This is a big one. This question serves a dual purpose. As a prospective employer, you need to know if there are any areas for improvement, what they are and how to address them. You also need to know if the candidate is coachable. The other point of this question is to bring to the surface any reason you may want to rethink the hiring of a particular candidate. For example, if the reference says that the candidate might benefit from an extra month of training, then you have to question their capabilities and experience for that role.

Question 5: Did the candidate work better in a team or alone?

Look, neither has to be a bad or good thing, some professionals work best alone and some in a team. It just depends on what you, as the employer, are looking for. This will not only reveal if your candidate is a team player but also tell you how good of a communicator they might be. Soft skills are just as important as any other skills in a business. Keep in mind that when you are asking these questions, you are also evaluating how well the reference knows the candidate.

Depending on if the candidate got promoted at their last job or not will reveal a lot. Did they check all the right boxes?
the perfect reference checking questions

Question 6: Did the candidate receive any promotions while at your company?

If the candidate was promoted at one point, then this would bolster their resume and the likelihood of getting selected. However, if not, it might serve you better to understand why. Perhaps there were no open positions, or maybe the management decided they needed a stronger internal candidate (which could be a red flag), or something else entirely.

Question 7: Why did the candidate leave the company?

Much like the initial question, this one is another cross-checking question. It will tell you not only why they left but if it checks out with what the candidate told you in the initial rounds of the interview. It is also a good indicator of any red flags like if they left on bad terms, some workplace issue or something else.

Question 8: Would you rehire this candidate?

This is a follow-up to the previous question, because if the reference doesn’t give you a resounding ‘absolutely’, then you might have to reconsider. Hesitation implies there are some underlying issues. This is something you should probably probe more about. Ask the reference why they would or would not hire them back.

Question 9: Is there anyone else you would recommend I speak with?

The whole point of the reference checking process and asking all these reference checking questions is to gain insight from a different point of view. So, ask the references if there is anyone who would be willing and able to talk to you that can tell you more about the candidate. This could be someone who worked alongside the candidate or under them too.

Reference Checking Tips: Top 10 Pointers for a Smoother Process

Reference Checking Tips for the best results

Reference Checking Tips: Top 10 Pointers for a Smoother Process

“Diligence is the mother of good fortune.”

- Benjamine Disraeli, Former United Kingdom Prime Minister

Intro to Reference Checking Tips

Before we get into the top tips, let’s look at what reference checking entails. It is the process of verifying information about a candidate during the hiring process. While it can be conducted over a phone call or an email, in recent times, employers have taken to other, more modern processes such as online survey forms, automated reference checking services and so on. The purpose of this is to make a more informed decision about the candidate before hiring them. One of the major challenges with the modern hiring market is that every open position gets hundreds of applicants in a given time frame.

Checking all their references can be a time-consuming and often complicated process. In this blog, we will give you the run-down of top reference checking tips that can lend themselves to a smoother reference checking process. However, before we get down to the reference checking tips, let’s briefly go over how one should go over a run-of-the-mill reference check.

Reference Checking Tips: How to Conduct a Reference Check

The first thing to do when attempting to conduct a reference check is to identify yourself, your affiliations (which company you’re calling from) and the person who listed them as a reference. Start the conversation by asking the reference if now is a good time to talk. Next, you will want to assure them that all the answers and questions will remain confidential. Once you get the green light to proceed and they seem willing and ready, you move to phase two.

Start by verifying the basic details like the dates of employment and termination, employment history up until that point and so on. You also want to dive into the candidate’s capabilities such as knowledge base, work-relevant skills and so on. Ask the reference if they think the candidate in question would be a good fit for the role. Above all else, give the reference room to breathe and answer in their own time. Don’t take them down the road to the easy answer, nor should you keep interrupting them. Give them time and have them answer directly.

Reference Checking Tips

Having reference checking as a mandatory part of hiring will thin the crowd of applicants, and give you the candidates you want.

Top 10 Reference Checking Tips

In the above paragraphs, we talked about the reference checking process in regards to the reference, now, we will take a more balanced perspective. Let’s look at how you should handle reference checks with regards to the candidates as well as the references.

Tip #1: Be Upfront About Reference Checks

Remember earlier when we said how each position can get hundreds of applicants? Well, this may be a good way of weeding out the honest candidates from the mountain of resumes. be upfront about the fact that you do thorough reference checks. This will highlight candidates that have given less than ideal references or other related issues. Before you know it, you may find your candidacy list shirking by itself. The result will be a pool of candidates that will be more ideal in terms of what you are looking for and most importantly, honest.

Tip #2: Avoid Delegating Reference Check Responsibilities

If we are being honest, some days at the office can get a little hectic, especially when you’re in the midst of a hiring process with many candidates. However, you should try your best to avoid passing the baton of referencing checking a candidate. If you do, you could potentially miss something huge with that candidate. As the hiring manager or employer, you know exactly what to look for and what you need. No one else will see it the same way, nor will they ask the right questions.

These slip-ups could be as small as a passing remark made by the reference that could have revealed something big that clashes with your company culture. Something you might have likely missed since the job was passed onto someone else. This particular point is therefore one of the most important reference checking tips.

"Diligence leads to competence."

- Jeffrey Benjamin, Author

Tip #3: Be Thorough

When you have to deal with more than one reference per candidate there is a challenge and an advantage to that. The challenge is that you have to keep track of a lot of information for correlation. To make the best hiring decision, you need to take lots of notes and double-check when you’re unsure.

If you miss a step, you might miss by a mile in terms of candidate evaluation. Now, in terms of the advantage, there are around two or three references for a given candidate. This means that you can cross-check information and see how authentic that candidate’s profile is. Getting that third reference to confirm can make all the difference.

Tip #4: Conduct the Reference Check Over the Phone

If you have the choice between doing it via email or phone, rather do it over the phone. There are a lot of nuances that you can pick up in a live conversation. Little things like inflections in their voice, tone, subtle passing comments, etc. All things that can reveal a lot about a candidate. The same doesn’t translate well into the written word and they are less likely to reveal something negative directly for fear of liability issues.

Tip #5: Start With Easy Questions

As most conversations go, start it off on the lighter side. Start the reference checking process with easy questions like: How long did they work for you? This presents a much higher chance of eliciting the responses that matter rather than jumping straight into the deep questions. Also, keep in mind that you should try to phrase your questions in a positive light.

Cross-referencing is the most important aspect of the reference checking process.

Reference Checking Tips for optimal results

Tip #6: Confirm Employment Dates

This may seem like an obvious one, but the fact is there can be minor discrepancies between the candidate’s stated dates of employment and the reality. This makes this point one of the most important references checking tips on this list. At the end of the day, you’re looking for a candidate of a certain experience, it doesn’t help you if this turns out to be false, so make sure before you hire them.

Tip #7: Avoid Close-Ended Questions

As far as reference checking tips go, this is another important one. The last thing you want as an outcome from the process is a whole bunch of vague, open-ended answers. Ask references questions in a way that will lead them to give you specific answers. For example, you might want to ask the reference: So, the candidate got along with their co-workers, correct? This would be preferred as opposed to asking a question like: How well did the candidate get along with their co-workers?

"Everything yields to diligence."

- Antiphanes, Ancient Greek Author

Tip #8: Gain Insights via Social Media

In this digital age, the social media realm offers lots of insights into who a person is. The same applies to candidates. When doing your due diligence this is a good place to look. While you may not be checking references in the traditional sense, checking a candidate’s public Facebook posts or Twitter feed can offer a lot of insight. This is especially true of their LinkedIn profile. This can quickly highlight not only their past work experiences and career orientation but also any discrepancies on their resumes.

Tip #9: Give Assurance of Confidentiality

If you have ever done a reference check in the past, you might have come across ex-employers who seem hesitant to answer some of your questions. Many times, references will hold back on answers out of fear of liability issues arising as a result. The best move you can make in these situations is to assure them that everything they say will remain confidential where applicable.

Tip #10: Watch Out for Fake References

It’s not unusual to have a candidate give you a fake reference as they may have had a falling out with their previous employer, or know that they have nothing good to say about the candidate. Hence, it is important to keep an eye on the authenticity of the references. As far as reference checking tips go, this one is cardinal, it gives legitimacy to the whole process. Verify the reference’s title, company name, their full name, dates of employment and if they were the candidate’s supervisor.

So, there you have it, some of the best reference checking tips that we think will help smooth out your recruitment process. However, if you still think that you might not have the time to sort through mountains of applications, there is an alternative: automated reference checking. Something that we here at Credibled specialize in! So, consider it and good luck!

Job Interview Questions Every Candidate Should Ask an Employer

Ask the right questions during the job interview

Job Interview Questions Every Candidate Should Ask an Employer

“To ask the right question is already half the solution of a problem.”

- Carl Jung, Swiss Psychiatrist

In this day and age, the workplace isn’t what it used to be. The pandemic proved how valuable job security and satisfaction were for employees. When it comes down to the recruitment process, the job interview is often the defining moment for both employer and employee. In such a rapidly changing landscape, you as the employee, need to also have the assurance that your potential employer has your best interest at heart. You also need to be sure that there is room for growth and that they are adapting to the ever-changing landscape. This blog aims to give candidates and jobseekers alike a helping hand in framing some impressive questions that can not only help your chances at landing a job but also help you assess the company for compatibility. Without delay, let’s get into it!

Job Interview Question 1: What's Your Strategy for Surviving the Pandemic?

Don’t think of this as an offensive question. It’s completely fair for you as a potential future employee to want to know if your employer has a viable business model. You need to make sure you have some level of job security before diving in right? Besides, it’s no secret that a lot of companies went under during the pandemic-induced shutdowns. If not that, it’s been downsized or restructured. Everyone had to learn to adapt or drown, so you need to know how they survived so you can go forward.

It would also be a good idea to check if they have a plan to survive the next pandemic if there ever was one. Given the different variants out there and the consecutive waves across the globe, it’s hard to be certain of anything. Make sure your employer has a backup plan in place.

The right job interview questions will determine the future of your work

Your future rides on you asking the right questions during a job interview, so make it count!

Job Interview Question 2: How Did You Add Value During the Pandemic?

Keeping to the pandemic centric questions, this is another one. It was a time when the world was forced to come together. Industries relied on each other and had to go the extra mile to survive. Some companies like food delivery services and grocery stores became key social enablers that people depended on daily. Alcohol distilleries started manufacturing hand sanitisers in some parts of the world.

The point being, asking your prospective employer about how they added value to other businesses or society in general during this time is very insightful. They tell you a lot about the employer’s character and intentions.

Job Interview Question 3: What Are Your Policies on Flexible Work?

Most people have gotten used to the remote work model. It’s flexible and convenient most days. If not that, then a hybrid work model. Whatever the case, not many are in favor of the usual 9-to-5 work model. If you find yourself a part of this crowd, then you should ask your prospective employer if they have flexible work policies. If they don’t ask them what the average week looks like. This is a great job interview question to help you decide where you want to work.

Job Interview Question 4: What Are Your Future Plans?

If the pandemic taught us anything, it is that the future is uncertain. As a potential employee, it makes sense for you to want to know what your prospective company envisions for its future. What are they working towards and are you interested in being a part of that vision? Ask them about projects or strategies that they have in the pipeline.

"I will prepare and someday my chance will come."

- Abraham Lincoln, 16th U.S. President

Job Interview Question 5: What is the Work Culture Like?

To be able to grow or even work at a company, you need to know if you would get along with the other employees. Ask your employer about what the culture is like, how open and free the general atmosphere is most days and what they strive to achieve in that. This job interview question is very important because most employees quit after a few months. This is often due to the company culture not being what they expected.

Job Interview Question 6: What Does Career Growth Look Like in Your Company?

This job interview question has always been a relevant one. Coming back to the idea of job security. You need to know if there is room for career growth within the company. Ask them what incentives they provide, how often do they have their employee assessments, how much do they alter salary increments and even how often they promote people. There is no point in joining a company where you hit a dead-end in terms of career growth.

Skill Shortages in the Modern Workplace: How to Overcome It

Finding the Right Employee to Combat Skill Shortages

Skill Shortages in the Modern Workplace: How to Overcome It

“Don’t get distracted by the shiny object (and if a crisis comes), execute on the fundamentals.”

- Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix

In recent years with the shift in work modes as a result of the pandemic, many have lost their jobs. This is partly also due to the changes in technology that were forced into commission as a result of the circumstances. The rapid changes in the needs of businesses left gaping canyons of disparity when it comes to skill shortages. As job demands increase and change new skills are being found to fill the gaps. This leaves some skills outdated, unfortunately. 

When all is said and done, businesses are struggling to find the right skill sets to address the skill shortages they face. More than that, talent is also becoming scarce. Without the right recruitment strategy, the shrinking talent pool may eventually dry up. Having said that, in today’s blog, we will address these skill shortages by showing you what steps you can take to improve your hiring strategy.

Skill Shortages Tip #1: Focus on Hiring the Right Candidate

When skill shortages are concerned, it becomes critical to hire the right people at the right time. As you would imagine, with such a scenario, the competition is likely to be high for the existing talent pool. The more the competition, the longer it might take you to find the right person for the job.

The candidate also gets more leverage due to the high demand for their skills. This can lead to a high payout to land a certain candidate. However, even if you win this race, there is no guarantee that you will find the right candidate. The chances of hiring the wrong person go up in a shrinking talent pool. This is partly because you are just grabbing the first best opportunity you get. That’s why it’s important to take the time to assess your options and make sure you focus on hiring the right person.

Use automation in the fight against skill Shortages

Automated Reference Checking technology can be a great help in identifying the right candidate for you!

Skill Shortages Tip #2: Use the Right Technology for Better Quality

Sometimes all it boils down to is using the right technology. For instance one of the main reasons that the recruitment process takes so long, is the reference checking and cross verification. What if you had a tool that could help you automate that process so your hiring manager can focus on what matters. This is where automated reference checking like Credibled comes in.

Credibled was founded by highly experienced recruiting industry leaders to provide cost-effective, automated reference checking solutions. We have utilized reference checking services ourselves and felt that there is a lot of room for growth and change in the industry. We took our prior experience to develop an industry-leading software solution. In the fierce race to secure top talent, Credibled enables you to win the battle with transparent, accurate and accelerated reference checks.

Our powerful API gives you an unmatched verification experience in the recruitment process. This means that you can start building on our platform effortlessly and make your background checks faster, easier, and more accurate. So, it’s worth considering.

Skill Shortages Tip #3: Shoot for Better Employee Retention

Many hiring managers will tell you that losing your existing employees takes more of a toll on the company than hiring new ones. Therefore, when you do find the right person, make sure you employ strategies to retain them for the long run. However, before you can jump in and try to create an employee retention plan to address the skill shortages, you need to identify the reasons for low retention.

It could be a variety of different things from poor quality of management, tough work-life balance, poor cultural fit, or even a lack of opportunity to grow within the company. Then once you identify the issues, you can go about creating solutions to address them. For example, you could pay competitive salaries, offer on-the-job training, reward and appreciate employees for their efforts or just re-invent the culture of the company to make it more inclusive.

"Choose the right employees and then set them loose."

- Carlos Slim, Mexican Business Magnate

Skill Shortages Tip #4: Stay Connected With Your Talent Pool

During the recruitment process, you build a repository of candidates. The mistake most hiring managers make is that they forget about all the ones that didn’t make it past screening. This is perhaps one of the most valuable resources you can have in the fight against skill shortages. As time goes on, these individuals are constantly studying, training and gaining new skills that might be useful later down the line.

A talent pool is never stagnant. Hence, you need to stay in touch with them and do regular follow-ups. This is especially useful when you’re headhunting and in the race for top talent.

Skill Shortages Tip #5: Adapt Your Workforce to Suit Current Trends

As we mentioned earlier, the onset of the pandemic forced mass migrations in technology and workforce trends. Most of the world was working from home. People got a taste for it. Now, even with offices opening back up, a lot of workers prefer the flexibility of working from home, which directly conflicts with the workforce composition of many companies. What hiring managers need to do, is to rethink their hiring policies and workforce compositions going forward. This includes accommodating the needs of remote workers.

7 Reasons Employee Engagement Surveys are a Great Idea

Employee Engagement Surveys give you valuable information

7 Reasons Employee Engagement Surveys are a Great Idea

“Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

- Francis of Assisi, Italian friar

Happy employees make for a happy company; a well known fact amongst company leaders and business owners. This begs the question, how confident are you that your employees are happy where they are? How confident are you that they will stay with you for the long run? This is why you need to conduct employee engagement surveys on a regular basis. These surveys will help you by giving you valuable insights and information about your employees that you may not be able to get otherwise.

In this blog, we will go over the advantages and reasons why you should consider putting employee engagement surveys to use. So, without delay, let’s jump into it!

#1: Employee Engagement Surveys Give Your Employees a Voice

There is a reason why surveys work better than face-to-face meetings most of the times. There is not human element, so it feels a little less confrontational when giving negative feedback. This makes it more likely that someone will be more honest in a survey. Employee engagement surveys help employees voice their opinions more freely and give you insight that you might not gain otherwise.

#2: Better Communication and a Positive Workspace

Providing a medium for employees to express themselves gives them a sense of empowerment.  By encouraging them to speak up for or against certain things in the workspace, makes for a non-threatening environment. Ultimately this allows them to communicate better with management and the overall impact of that is positive.

Employee Engagement Surveys help you identify and rectify issues early on
Employee engagement surveys provide valuable information that allows you to identify trends before they become problems.

#3 With Employee Engagement Surveys Privacy is Maintained

The beauty of a survey is that it can be anonymous. Ever notice how much easier it is to voice a strong opinion when you don’t have to worry about people knowing it was you? Well, the same principle applies here. Anonymous employee engagement surveys help create an atmosphere where you get more honest feedback for this reason.

#4 Get Down to the Truth

Regardless of tirelessly you work to maintain a even perspective and give your employee a fair work environment, you won’t really know the ground reality. As a member of upper management, it will be a whole different experience than that of employees who have their boots on the ground every day. So, in order to know if your efforts are working, you need that unbiased and honest feedback.

#5 Build a Better Benefits Program with Employee Engagement Surveys

Employee engagement surveys allow you, the employer, to find out what kind of benefits the employees actually would like. Instead of wasting time, money and resources on things that they don’t want nor need, take a moment to collect this data. You can thereby create a benefits program that is more employee-centric, which in turn leads to happier employees.

Another added benefit along the same line of thought is that you might be able to identify motivational factors. What drives employees to perform better and feel happier? Is it benefits, recognition, an opportunity to advance their careers or all of the above?

"Treat employees like partners, and they act like partners."

- Fred Allen, American Comedian

#6 Boost Employee Loyalty with Employee Engagement Surveys

Employee retention is part of the reason why companies do and should worry about satisfaction levels.  You might be able to increase employee loyalty within your organization by engaging in meetings where they can contribute something to the business through these surveys.

Not only can these employee engagement surveys lead to loyalty, but they can also help build trust. When they know that the management cares about them enough to shape policies around their needs, they know that this is a trustworthy company.

#7 See Trends Before They Become Problems

The advantage of having so much unbiased and raw information on your hands is you have the ability to see through the smoke. You can extrapolate this information and recognize trends even before they become an issue. This can help you improve your internal operations, work atmosphere and many other things. Proactiveness beats reactivity any day.

Roll Out an Efficient Recruitment Process in 2022

How to make the recruitment process more efficient

Roll Out an Efficient Recruitment Process in 2022

“Efficiency and focus are the keys to success.”

- Robert Crais, American Author

The world of recruitment and hiring has become rather erratic and unpredictable over the past few years. This was especially highlighted by the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. When recruiters need to hire these days, they usually need to do it quickly. Now, the pandemic does play a part in this, but as we said it is only one part. The other is due to the rapid digitization of the market. As a whole, candidates are getting more and more accustomed to a more efficient and higher quality recruitment process. According to a whitepaper published by the Robert Walters Group, around 65% of candidates are put off by lengthy recruitment.

Another paper published by Deloitte states that around 83% of candidates who have a negative recruitment experience can often change their minds about a role or a company that they once liked. What these numbers tell us is that a long and awkward recruitment process will do more harm than good. This is not just speaking in terms of your candidate pool, but also your employer brand. Having said that, in this blog, we will have a look at a few different ways to improve your recruitment process strategy in 2022.

How Do You Define Efficiency in the Recruitment Process

Efficiency in the recruitment process is both fast and easy for all parties involved. This means it should be a seamless experience between and for the candidate and hiring manager. If you were to define it further, an efficient process would be one where automation takes care of the manual tasks and saves on administrative time. An efficient process is also one that has the right timing. It collects the necessary information at the required time so no one wastes theirs.

At the end of the day, there might be a million different ways to make the recruitment process more efficient. However, the truth of the matter is, it all begins with having the right technology.

Simplify the recruitment process
Simplifying the recruitment process is one of the best ways to make things more efficient.

#1 Maintain a Common Core for Your Information

Let’s be honest, the usual way that recruitment processes unfold is by having candidates apply through a job site. As the hiring manager, you download their information, shortlist them and add them to a spreadsheet. Once all that is done you feed it into the screening software you use. In this day and age, this is too clunky. It leaves candidate information everywhere and becomes a chaotic mess that you need a whole team of people to track at times.

A good place to start is by integrating some form of Applicant Tracking System (ATS). Think of it like a storage core where you keep all your candidate information. It’s like a one-stop-shop. This way, you eliminate the need for multiple excel sheets and keep things streamlined for yourself and the candidate. No information will be lost, candidates won’t miss crucial emails and you can close unwanted candidates off from the process with higher efficiency.

You can judge the quality of the ATS based on how well it integrates with other recruitment technologies like your automated reference checking software.

#2 Accept the Power of Automation

Automation is a modern luxury that allows recruiters to work smarter and not harder. They can put their skills to use where it matters rather than spending hours phone-screening candidates. Once you have the right automation technology on your side, you will be able to shortlist candidates more efficiently. This means you don’t have to spend days or even weeks working your way through a thousand different applications and resumes.

Rather, you just need to call the candidates who were shortlisted and select the best from that crowd. Easier shortlisting means less time to hire and better quality of candidates seeing as the recruiter is free to use their talents where it matters most. Once again, as we mentioned before this should ideally integrate with your ATS as well.

"Efficiency is doing better what is already being done."

Peter Drucker, Austrian-American Educator

#3 Check Scalability and Compatibility of Technologies

So far, we have talked about the implementation of technology. This point is more about making sure you implement the right technology. With the arrival of the pandemic and everyone shifting to remote work, practically overnight, it was a big change. Companies grabbed the first recruitment automation solution they could get their hands on. However, with remote work looking like it will be a possible constant in the future, it’s time to adopt technologies that will scale up with your business.

Ask yourself if the technology adds value to the process and what ROI you get from it. What are its limitations? Is it available 24/7? Can you integrate it with your existing systems or expand it as necessary? These questions will help determine if you are choosing the right product for your specific business needs. If you suddenly have to hire a huge influx of candidates you don’t want to be left stranded because you need to update your strategy or tech stack.

#4 Keep Experimenting

Experimenting doesn’t just mean checking all your processes all the time. It means to change things up a little! If you usually recruit at the end of the process, try doing it at the beginning! This is a great way to shortlist a group of strong candidates and it saves a ton of time. It can also help you lock down top talent fast as the due diligence will be done early on in the process.

Another thing you could do is pre-screen all your eligible candidates at the beginning of the recruitment process. It will allow you to evaluate more candidates in half the time. This means that you get to work with a wider talent pool and more data efficiently. There is also the added benefit of reduced human bias.

Constantly testing and experimenting will help you improve your overall recruitment process and candidacy funnel. Remember, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel or anything, just small changes can go a long way. Following these steps can help make the process easier and of higher quality, which is what you need in the modern job market as an employer.

Interview Bias: A How-To Guide on Minimizing It

How to Eliminate Interview Bias

Interview Bias: A How-To Guide on Minimizing It

“Woe to the man who tries to remain objective and to maintain a wide perspective: everyone will label him as an enemy.”

- Paul Tournier, Swiss physician

When it comes to reference checking or even the recruitment process in general, we often talk about what the candidate needs to bring to the table. We so often forget that the interview process is a two-way street and the role the interviewer plays is just as significant to consider. In this case, what does the recruiter bring to the table? Are they objective or inherently biased? If it’s that latter, what’s the solution? These are some of the questions we will attempt to tackle in today’s article.

Understanding the Issue of Interview Bias

When it comes down to the interview process, as a stranger, candidates get the raw end of the deal. This issue mainly boils down to how they are assessed by another stranger. When the candidate is someone the hiring manager is somewhat familiar with, then those people are assessed based on their past performances for the most part.

However, strangers are more or less judged on their motivation to get the job, some general competency standards, technical knowledge and their first impression. Now, don’t get us wrong, these are good measures to have when assessing a candidate, but not when it’s done through a biased lens. Let’s take a stranger who makes a good first impression, on some level the hiring manager will look for facts to justify their strengths. If it was a bad impression, they might subconsciously look for reasons to exclude them from the job.

The caveat here is, both sides can be factually backed up if you look hard enough. So, as you can see, interviewer bias has many layers to it, and it’s never really a clear-cut thing. Having said that, there are some ways in which one can reduce interview bias and keep the process relatively fair.

First impressions play a big role in interview bias
The first impressions play a huge role in the interview process. Try to hold off final decisions based on that alone.

Top 10 Ways to Reduce Interview Bias

Before we dive into the list of ways in which you can reduce interviewer bias, we need to make note of one simple fact. Bias can only ever be reduced or managed. As a rule of thumb, human beings are biased on some level, consciously or subconsciously. It’s in our nature, be it for the better or worse. Having said that, these tactics will help you manage the bias.

Tip #1: Define the Job Requirements, Not the Person

When you put out an ad for a job, you will of course provide a job description. This is usually where the bias can start. More specifically, you need to define the description as a set of things that need to be done by a person. Oftentimes you might find that it is a list of things that the person needs to have.

If during an interview the candidate proves that they have previously done such work, it means that they have the skills to get the job done. However, this can contradict what was listed in the job description. Once you redefine the work for performance objectives rather than candidate requirements, you open up the talent pool. This not only brings in diversity, but also reduces bias as you would be comparing their past experiences, and not their first impressions.

Tip #2: Do an Initial Phone Interview

One sure-fire way to reduce bias is to make the process a little less personal, at least initially. Before you even have an interview with the person, consider a normal phone call. This reduces bias by removing visual cues that could influence us. Instead, we would be going purely off their resume, track record and so on. Establishing a decent connection based purely on their performance history will set the pace for the rest of the interview. This way, the first onsite impression, be it good or bad, won’t matter, because you already know what they are capable of.

"You have to attempt to be objective about yourself"

- Charles Dance, Actor

Tip #3: Panel Interviews Can Help

Having a panel of interviewers, as opposed to one person, lessens the odds of there being any bias in the room. This is especially helpful if all the interviewers are assigned specific roles. Having this diversity and a controlled proceeding will give the interview a good balance.

Tip #4: Scripting Can Reduce Interview Bias

Scripting the interview, be it fully or partially can help reduce the interview bias as well. Giving the candidate the pre-scripted questions ahead of time brings down the chances of any deviations during the interview. This tip is pretty connected to the previous one, so perhaps consider combining them both in certain instances.

Tip #5: Take Time to Decide

Now, we don’t mean you need to be slow in deciding, but rather take your time and think it through. A good rule of thumb is to wait 30 minutes before you make any yes or no decisions. In the meantime, make sure to ask all the candidates the same set of questions, regardless of if you have a positive or negative reaction.

Tip #6: Taken Everything into Account

Much like how a courtroom operates, you need to take into consideration all the evidence, i.e., the facts, before settling on any one decision. To make the closest thing to a balanced decision, you need to have all the information in your hand. Once you have all this you can make a more informed and balanced decision that is fair to everyone involved.

The interviewer's mindset is perhaps one of the biggest influencers of the interview outcome, regardless of the candidate.

Eliminating interview bias also depends on the interviewer's state of mind

Tip #7: Reverse Psychology Is a Great Tool for Reducing Interview Bias

Remember the point we mentioned earlier about looking for facts that back up how we perceive a candidate? Well, this is a good way to combat that issue. Once you, the interviewer, have been through the recruitment process a few times, you will notice the pattern. Use this information to do work in opposition to what you perceive. Let’s use the earlier example of how we look for facts that back up how we perceive the candidates’ first impression.

Now, in such a case, force yourself to look for reasons that contradict how you perceive them. If they give a negative first impression, look for positive facts and vice versa. Think about it as looking for the other half of the puzzle.

Tip #8: Treat Candidates Like They Are Experts

When we interview people who are viewed as experts in their field, we tend to give them the benefit of the doubt. It is highly recommended that you treat every candidate as an expert too. If you give all your candidates the same courtesy, the truth will become obvious, whether you like them or not. This is a good way to objectively approach the recruitment process.

Tip #9: Use a Scoring System

When it comes down to personal opinions there will always be bias involved to some degree. This is good in certain instances where you have to use your intuition to judge the quality of the candidate. However, if you’re trying to reduce interview bias in the process, consider using a scoring system to back up your opinions. Perhaps something along the lines of a scorecard. 

Tip #10: First Impressions Should Be Considered Last

When all is said and done about the bias of first impressions, there is still a use for first impressions. They can reveal a lot about the character of the candidate, which is essential for assessing workplace compatibility. Having said that, reserve all judgements on first impressions and only consider them towards the end of the interview process. This will allow you to get a reasonably objective view of them as you won’t be that deterred or wooed by said impression. You will have facts and reasons to measure it against.

While all these steps are great individual tools, it would be better if some aspect of these guidelines were involved throughout the recruitment process. It drives up the overall quality of your recruitment process while driving down the chances of interview bias.

Reference Checking: Everything You Need to Know About the Process

Everything you need to know about reference checking as a process

Reference Checking: Everything You Need to Know About the Process

“It’s more important to hire people with the right qualities than with specific experience.”

- J. Willard Marriott, American entrepreneur

Many employers use reference checking as part of the hiring process. We can all agree it’s a pretty standard occurrence. It’s basically when an employer contacts the job applicants, previous employers. This is usually done to get a better idea of who the candidate is, their past work experience and other factors to verify if they are suitable for the offered position. Having said that, despite its standard presence across the various industries, the very definition of a reference check has changed somewhat over the years.

The way people perceive it, approach it and handle it has morphed into something more inclusive. As with all things that change with the needs of the market and society around it, the reference checking process has become a refined tool, rather than just another box to check.

What is Included in a Reference Check?

So there are two basic levels to a reference check. It can either be a surface-level reference check or an in-depth one. With the former, it’s more an exercise to verify dates of employment, job titles, qualifications and other factual information. When you consider the latter, it’s more detailed as the name suggests.

Reference will face a line of questioning that is similar to that which the applicant faces. As mentioned before, this is more a traditional reference check, where employers try to get an idea about who the person behind the resume is. They dig into the applicants’ strengths, weaknesses, skills, teamwork abilities and so on, to see if they are a good fit for the job.

Canada has key reference checking laws in place
Canada has key laws and acts that regulate what information flows and how it flows during the reference checks.

Reference Checking Vs. Background Checks

If you’re wondering if the two are the same thing, the answer is kind of, but not really. The major differentiator, in this case, is their focus. Reference checks are meant for providing insights into the candidate’s ability as an employee while also doing the surface level verification. However, background checks are purely meant for credential verification purposes.

Another difference is that where a reference may only focus on the personal and professional reference you provide, a background check will go into your employment history, credit history, criminal records and so on.

Laws Regulating Reference Checking in Canada

Different countries have different privacy laws and regulations when it comes to background checks. However, when you take the case of Canada there are two specific laws that you need to make note of. One is the Privacy Act and the other is the PIPEDA (Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act) at the federal level. Keep in mind that there are also laws at the provincial level.

These laws are in place to regulate the organization’s right to receive information during reference checks. As per said laws, the candidates in question have to give written consent to have the reference checking conducted by the relevant employers.

Organizations also have to store the information from the reference checks they do, for at least a year. At the same time, candidates should have the opportunity to access their information. Apart from these federal laws, there are also Human Rights Legislation Acts in Canada that impact reference checking. The Canadian Human Rights Act as well as the Provincial and Territorial Human Rights Laws, prohibit employers from asking questions in certain areas during a reference check or interview.

These areas include race, ethnicity, religion, age, gender, marital status, family status, disability, genetics, criminal records. Asking questions about these topics could be discriminatory and the company could get in trouble. Fair to say, there are many do’s and don’ts when it comes to reference checks in Canada.

"You don't hire for skills, you hire for attitude. You can always teach skills."

- Simon Sinek, Author

The Right Way to Handle Reference Checks

All things considered, it would be a fair assumption to say that reference checking plays an important role in the hiring process. Given the weight it carries, it makes sense that there are so many laws that regulate it at so many levels. At the end of the day, it should be done right.

For one thing, consider doing the reference check at the beginning of the hiring process as opposed to the end. This will save everyone’s time by eliminating any doubt about whether the candidate in question is suitable for the recruitment process or not. Another thing you should keep in mind is the format. A common format is important given you will be checking in on candidates from different walks of life. So, to keep things unbiased, objective, and fair, you need to have a set number of common questions that you can apply across the board.

How Candidates Should Apply

The care a candidate puts into the application process, tells a lot about them. When they apply, ideally, they should provide proper references. They should give you at least three former co-workers and supervisors. However, if they are applying for their first job, like a fresh graduate, then the reference information for their college professors or lecturers can suit the purpose of the reference check.

Make sure that you ask for the applicant’s consent before conducting the check. You should try to get it in writing just to be safe. You also need to make sure that the references are willing to stand for the candidate. Take it a step further and advertise this when you make the vacancy public; it will smooth out the process a little more.

These days automated reference checking is becoming more and more popular due to its efficiency capabilities.

automated reference checking is becoming the new trend in the recruitment landscape

Preparation

Now as we mentioned before, most companies tend to wait till the end of the recruitment process to conduct the reference checks. The best method is to do it before the recruitment process gets started. This thins the crowd and you proceed with only the candidates who will suit your company culture and job profile.

Now onto the actual preparation. Before you start firing away 20 questions, call up the references and find out if they want to stand in as a reference for the applicant. Start with the senior-most reference and work your way down, it’s a professional courtesy. Inform them about the process, the candidate’s application (after getting the candidate’s consent), and get everyone on the same page.

They might agree to do the interview on the spot, or you might have to schedule them for a more convenient time later. The best way is via phone call or email, traditionally speaking, so get that confirmed as well.

Executing the Reference Checking

Finally, the day for the check arrives! You need to confirm that everyone is ready and available. Make sure to inform the reference about the time it might take. Be clear with the information you provide.

Finally, approach it like a conversation. The references are people after all; human beings. So get them relaxed, ease into the conversation, take it one question at a time and take plenty of notes. As good as traditional reference checks are, these days a lot of companies are employing the service of automated reference checking. This is a process that eliminates human bias, reduces time to hire and makes the whole process smoother. As an employer, you should consider this option.