Reference Checks … A Complete Waste of Time?

 In Blog

I read a blog post today that literally made me chuckle. The author wrote a piece on why “referencing checking is a lame recruiting technique” and that it was a practice that had diminished, in the same “way of dinosaurs”. Honestly, this left me baffled, as working both from inside and outside of the HR space over the years, I have seen what happens when you don’t conduct reference checks. The article explains that anyone with “half-a-brain” will give you his or her best references. Well – naturally! But most employers nowadays request at least 2 professional references from your most recent employers – not personal references – so technically, the half-brained candidate would have at least had decent people skills and worked well within their capacity at their last employment to use them as references. In fact, recently a close friend of mine had to provide 7 referees for their new role…. And yes all 7 were called by the company. It may take recruiters and hiring managers longer to complete these checks, but I feel that it is a good practice to have more than 2 references completed.

Understandably, it may be impractical to conduct reference checks in industries that have high turnover rates – production industries for example. In such industries, there are other methods of recruiting worthy candidates without conducting reference checks, but this situation was not why the author justified his reasoning in the blog I had just read. He went on to say that even if a bad reference came back, that it would not stop a company from hiring said candidate. No – he’s right, that is up to the employer to decide and it probably would depend on what the reference had said. But wouldn’t you think that receiving that particular insight or information would be valuable and would “assist” in determining whether or not you want to go ahead with this candidate?

To say that they are a “complete waste of time” would be misleading. No, do not only do reference checks as your only pre-employment protocol… Yes, conduct reference checks with a combination of other tools such as criminal checks, medical checks, online skills tests, or psychometric checks (if applicable).

In order to recruit quality candidates, you must be prepared to do the groundwork. If you don’t do that, you are essentially putting your company at risk.

Conducting reference checks ensures due diligence is made. You are thinking about your company and the people who already work there. You are minimising risks. You are investing in your talent pool while keeping them safe. You know, that old saying “Your company’s greatest assets are your employees”. Well, it’s true.

For any questions or assistance with conducting references checks or utilising pre-employment screening tools, contact Rightreferences at or give us a call on 1300 463 085.

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