Checking References the Right Way

Many employers think checking a candidate’s work references is tedious and unnecessary, but they are wrong.  When done right, reference checking is both enlightening and essential.  The problem is that employers don’t use the proper interview techniques and they don’t use the occasion of talking to references to its fullest potential.

Here’s how to do it right:  During the interview process, as you discuss the candidate’s work history, zero in on a particular event–or events–when the candidate and his or her co-workers worked to resolve a problem or disagreed on an issue.  Discuss this matter at length with the candidate, asking specific questions about time, place, and the people involved.  Now, from among those involved people choose the supervisors or co-workers with whom you would like to speak to verify the candidate’s version of events.

When you ask the candidate for the names and contact information of those involved in the particular events, note the reaction.  An honest candidate will typically try to help you in every way possible to contact the reference and thereby confirm his or her account; while a dishonest candidate will erect obstacles and make excuses for not providing contact information.

When you contact your chosen reference, you have specific, work-related events to discuss and verify, and now you can engage that reference in a conversation that confirms or refutes the candidate’s version.  When the candidate has told the truth about the event, even if it involved a difficult workplace problem, you will find the reference is willing to discuss it.  But when the candidate has misrepresented or exaggerated the event, the reference will contradict the candidate’s version, and you will know your candidate’s commitment to honesty is questionable.

Quality, work-related references gathered during the interview can provide insight into the honesty of the candidate, and finding an honest candidate is the key to finding a good worker.  The secret to finding useful references is to select them yourself.  When talking to references, the secret is to have relevant workplace events to discuss with them.

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All Good Hires Take Time

Previously, we learned that per the Brandon Hall Group, only 5% of employers adequately evaluate resume content during their initial screening process.  That’s not good.  Employers should carefully screen resumes to eliminate unworthy candidates up front so more time can be spent interviewing worthy ones.

Career blog Undercover Recruiter tells us 33% of employers know within 90 seconds of the start of an interview whether they will hire a candidate.  That’s not good either.  Most of us can’t decide our fast food order in 90 seconds.  Undercover Recruiter also says candidates can help their chances of landing their dream job by dressing well, having a firm handshake, and simply by making a good first impression.  That may be true, but haven’t HR personnel learned not to judge books by their covers?

Every job candidate has a unique work history that should be explored.  The best employees are honest employees, and it is the interviewer’s job to take the necessary time to poke and to prod through their work history until the candidate’s commitment to personal honesty is revealed.  Lax screening, subjective judgments, and canned interview questions save time, but fail to eliminate dishonest and unworthy candidates.  By using layered questions, falsifiability, and corroboration, all-about-you interviews uncover the crucial facts that allow interviewers to gauge a candidate’s level of honesty.

Take the time to get to know your candidates, meticulously analyze their resumes, and then use all-about-you interviewing techniques to unveil their level of personal honesty.  When looking for outstanding, long-term employees, there’s no better time-tested indicator than personal honesty.

A Hiring Manager’s Best Tool: The Resume

Some tools are so familiar that we sometimes neglect them.  That’s the way it is with job seekers’ resumes.  They’re the best tool to use when confronting a hiring decision, and they should be valued and used as such.

According to research published in 2015 by the Brandon Hall Group, only 5% of companies adequately evaluate resume content during the initial screening process.  Perhaps this is why 95% of the employers surveyed admitted to making bad hires each year.

Unlike a job application or an online questionnaire, a resume is wholly the creation of the applicant and it gives the employer insight into the applicant’s mind.  Interviewers should assume that every word on the resume is there for a reason.  The candidate has decided which skills, job duties, education, and experiences he or she wants to advertise.  The manner and style of the presentation has been determined by the candidate, and that too provides valuable insight.

Read the resume closely, checking and cross-checking content, names, places, timelines, job titles, and awards.  If the facts don’t line up, set that resume aside and look for a better one.  By screening resumes effectively, the hiring manager avoids wasting time on interviewing unworthy candidates.

While studying the resume consider these items:  Does the information align with reality?  What were the applicant’s intentions with each particular statement?  Why was it included?  What questions does it raise?  Ultimately, these are the questions that should be asked during the interview.

Interviewers should give resumes the attention they deserve.  Ignoring this important tool is tantamount to setting out in a rowboat with just one oar.  Proper use of resumes keeps hiring managers from going in circles.

All About You Interview

View of happy business team after workInterviewers want to know how a job candidate will perform if hired.  If you have been following this blog, you already know that personal honesty is the key to identifying a good worker.  But how does an employer gauge a candidate’s personal honesty?  Use the “all about you” interview.

Make the candidate the focus of the interview.  The effective interviewer uses general questions about past work experience, then concentrates on the answers to those questions to generate more questions, using each layer of questions and answers to delve deeper into various aspects of the candidate’s work experience.  Ultimately, the interviewer will use the information gleaned from this exchange and his/her listening skills to judge whether the applicant is honest.

The all about you interview is like a casual barstool conversation.  If you decide you want to get to know the fellow sitting next to you, your conversation will be focused on him; not you.  In an all about you interview, your approach runs a similar course, as it is a conversation that focuses wholly on the applicant’s work history and experience without relying on predetermined or canned questions.

The interviewer’s efforts are leveraged by asking questions about supervisors, working relationships with those supervisors, the sorts of workplace problems that arose, how those problems were resolved, who resolved them, the interviewee’s attitude toward co-workers, and more.  By the time the interview is a rolling into its second half hour, the attentive interviewer has compiled plenty of facts and references to validate the applicant’s statements and to gauge his or her honesty.  During this time, most dishonest candidates will make their dishonesty apparent by being vague, dodging questions, or by contradicting themselves.

Interviewers looking for honest workers will focus their questions on the issues, events, people, and preferences of their job candidates.  They engage in a work-related conversation with the candidate aimed at providing as much information as possible.  To get to know a job candidate, there’s no better tool than the all about you interview.