References can make hiring easier for you.

In their haste to go through the hiring process quickly, many employers don’t bother about the references. If they do, they use them as the last resort – something that they’d do after they finish their scanning process and are almost sure about hiring the particular candidate. However, expert advice is that references should be given more importance because former employers have a lot of information that you can use to assess a person’s eligibility to work in your firm. You should, thus, make references an integral part of hiring rather than just a superficial part.

Some of you may retort that talking to references barely ever did you any good because former employers don’t like giving away too much. They don’t like opening up and giving you what you are looking for. This may be due to legal purposes or for other reasons but it is true that many former employers hesitate while giving information. That is the reason why you should change your approach and your way of asking questions.

Here is some valuable advice:

Ask About Weaknesses Smartly

You really can’t ask anyone for someone’s weaknesses directly. They will not divulge such information. However, understanding the weaknesses of a candidate is very important. That is why you should get smart and find new ways of gleaning this information. For example, instead of directly asking what’s on your mind, you could ask the reference to rate the candidate in particular areas.

A rating below 7 is obviously bad. If the reference rates him or her 7 or 8, you could further ask them to help you understand how the candidate could perform better. Many will give in and let you know what they think. From all this you will understand the weak points of the candidate.

Ask For Confirmation

Some managers will simply refuse to tell you anything. There are ways to get them talking as well. You could simply request them to confirm a few things that the candidate told you during the interview. For example, you can ask the candidate to rate him or herself in various aspects. Now, you can ask the manager to confirm whether this rating is true or exaggerated. If they still don’t confirm, simply laugh heartily.

Ask About Things Other Than Work

Go beyond the skills and the responsibilities of the candidate and ask general questions as well such as how clean and organized the candidate is when he or she works and whether he or she participates in other activities. You could also ask how passionate the candidate is. Answers to these questions will help you determine whether the candidate will fit your company culture and that is vital.

You may have understood by now that references can help you a lot. Therefore, it is ideal that you don’t take them lightly and instead, use them to know the job candidate well.

Entrepreneurial Learning

References are powerful means of assessing job candidates. You just have to know how to approach former employers to coax the required information out of them. Be clever and strategic because not many will directly tell you what you want to know.

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