Checking your candidates’ references gives you a glimpse of how other people view the candidate both personally and professionally. It validates your first impression and a gives you insight on your candidate’s past performance.
Getting the right information requires etiquette. It is important to be polite. When calling someone remember to ask if they have time to speak with you, if not, be respectful and set a mutually convenient time. If you are aggressive and disrespectful you will not get the information that you are looking for.
It is imperative to listen, really listen, and you will get some valuable information. The referee may not directly answer your question or they may add comments that will give you a glimpse into your candidate’s performance. For Example, you may ask what motivates your candidate, and the answer you may get is she likes to win at any cost. Winning is great, you want to hire a performer, but what is the cost? If you listened the reference has give you the opportunity to further dig at what is the cost.
Doing the references the right way takes preparation. The best practice would be to read the candidate’s resume, formulate questions based on the candidate’s’ past experiences and the job that is being considered. Ask each referee the same question to get a consistent view of the candidate
If you don’t have the time to check the references the right way, consider outsourcing.