A while back, a survey from CareerBuilder of more than 2,500 hiring managers identified that MORE THAN HALF have caught job candidates lying on their resumes. 62% of respondents say they’ve identified candidates embellishing skills and abilities, and 54% say they’ve caught applicants taking liberties when describing their previous responsibilities. A quarter have even seen applicants who claim to be employed by companies they never even worked for.

It can cost a lot of time and money to correct making a bad hire.  Many of these bad hires could be avoided if potential employers made a policy of checking references.  The time investment is certainly worth it. 

Be transparent with your applicant about references

Ask candidates for both professional and character references, and their consent to contact them. This can be included as part of your formal application process.

Be objective and professional

First, inform the reference that their feedback will remain confidential. Explain the position and skills required for the position you are looking to fill.  Ask specific, open-ended questions – the same questions for all candidates. Verify information provided, such as length of employment, responsibilities and or projects, and perhaps work attendance.  A telling question may include asking if the reference would hire them again.

 If for some reason the reference doesn’t wish to provide details, don’t pressure them, but thank them for their time and contact another reference for your candidate.  And if you continue to have questions or a nagging concern, don’t limit yourself only to the candidate’s list of references.

Occasionally, you may learn important pieces of information that will cause you to reconsider a candidate. Taking the time to verify references during the selection process can save you a lot of frustration and money in the long run.