The Reference Check

All too often I get asked the question how can I ensure the candidate that interviews is the same personality that will I see in the workplace.  The reality is, it won’t be.  People in an interview put their best foot forward.  It’s a first date.  Employers are asked to commit to a marriage with an employee with only a couple of dates worth of information.  Today people are savvy enough to scour the internet and social media to see what kind of person they are dating. Organizations, that spend more time with co-workers than their families, fail to do the same background checks on their potential employees. Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior, you need to get information from others who have worked with the candidate in order to know what the person is truly like.
To start-off a good reference release gives you permission to talk to anyone the person has worked with, not just the handful they have given you.  The people given to you are most likely prepared and coached ahead of time on what to say.  You need to talk to other people who are frankly going to be much more honest than friends.  So dig deeper, the internet and networking is a great place to start.
Use caution when doing their reference checks.  You aren’t looking for one bad reference or one bad post, you are looking for trends.  What type of person are they and how will they fit with your team?  You are not looking for friendships, clones, or dates, but rather you are looking for a person who has synergy with your team.  If you are using a recruiter to do your reference checks, ask for their process and whom they have contacted.
The number one reason for employee turnover is personality driven not skill driven. Doing a complete reference check can better analyze whether the employee has the skills needed to perform the job and if they fit the culture of the organization and department.  Time spent doing this can lead to higher productivity and longevity of both the employee and their co-workers.