Reference Checks – Relevance in the current context #Talent Acquisition 2017.0

By January 5, 2018 Talent Acquisition

Hiring at the CXO level has always been an intense process at every step which ensures that the ‘right fit’ both in terms of Culture & Competency gets hired for the job. A combination of highly evolved psychometric assessment tools are often used in combination with detailed and multiple personal interviews over an extended period of time to gauge the candidate and what ‘makes them tick’.

The ‘tango’ between the candidate and the company looking at hiring them is carefully orchestrated sometimes directly by both parties or else at times facilitated by a recruitment partner. And a very important part of the hiring process is often initiated towards maturity in the process, ‘Reference Checking’. There are two types of Reference Checks normally conducted, either ‘Direct’ i.e. those given by the candidate themselves or ‘Indirect’ References which are done discreetly by the Hiring Manager through people/ organizations that have known the candidate professionally at some point in their career.

The objective of Reference Checking is often to check the veracity of the candidate’s claims in the interview process and their profile as it has been observed that human beings are prone to exaggerate their achievements to the point of fallacy. Whether reference checking as a process is able to adequately address the above concerns of the hiring company is under debate as it has often been observed that the most valued reference checking mechanism i.e. Indirect Reference Checking is also prone to getting influenced by inaccurate grapevine regarding the candidate and their previous stints depending on who is being spoken to.

At no point am I suggesting that Reference Checking as a process should be done away with due to its inherent natural flaws but more importantly I would like to point out a ‘higher purpose’ that this (very critical step in the hiring process) should serve – to get to know the operating style of the potential candidate who is being looked at for the role and to understand them better in various situations. The short process of interviewing coupled with human beings’ abilities to camouflage and ‘play various parts’ can be significantly made more interesting and contextual if supplemented with information gathered about them during the process of reference checking.

I am also suggesting that this information in combination with interactions which have happened in the interview stage (which have been evaluated intuitively by the hiring manager) should be understood and thought about in the context of prevailing dynamics in ‘the market’ and based on this a careful hiring decision should be taken.

As one ‘wrong hire’ can cost an organization dear …

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