As someone who checks references s for a living, it always surprises me when the process is not taken seriously. When a candidate is asked to provide references, and fill out forms for pre-employment screening, it is only because a company is interested in bring them onboard.

The candidate should do their due diligence, provide names of refences who can speak to their most current performance. Candidates should ensure that the references are available and willing to speak for them. When providing authorization for education verification, ensure that the names on the forms were the same that was used in the educational institution. Ensure that names are spelled correctly and provide accurate information. We have seen forms filled out where people are unsure of when they graduated and unsure of what subject they have studied. We have recently seen an authorization form for verification of a criminal conviction filled out by a candidate saying that they were unsure if they were ever convicted of a crime.

Candidates’ behaviour that centres around their pre-employment screening is telling about their performance. The hiring manager and/or recruiters should pay attention to a candidate who takes two weeks to provide references. They may not be motivated to take the job or there may be a time management issue. The candidate who provides references that are over 10 years old even though they have more current work experience may be trying to cover up recent poor performance, or has been in a job for such a long time that they can’t provide anyone in their current role.

Pay attention to a candidate’s post-secondary education on a resume. If there is a school, a field of study and a date but no degree listed, the candidate has, most likely, not earned a degree.

As reference checkers, we never meet the candidates and only see a small piece of the puzzle. However, it is an important piece. Qualitative reference checking will provide solid information about a candidate and their behaviours. Do your due diligence and you will get a good glimpse into who you are hiring.