So your job candidate has provided you with three work references as part of the interview process.  What next?  Is it enough that they have provided references?  Surely this demonstrates that the candidate has good work references, otherwise he or she would not have been so forthcoming in providing them, right?  Think again.

You ask for work references in the hiring process for a reason: to gain insight into your job candidate as an employee.  To overlook these, or to treat references as a mere formality, may result in a bad hire as reseach done by has demonstrated.  A study of 2,500 human resource professionals revealed that references were only contacted roughly 80% of the time.  One third of these hiring managers had found fake references listed on resumes.  Furthermore ⅔ of references contacted did not review the candidate positively.  It was also discovered that many references did not know they were being listed at all.

If you are not checking references, you are missing out on a wealth of revealing information.  Make sure that you not only contacting references, but making the most of the information references may be able to provide to you.  Beyond verifying employment, here are some questions that you may want to ask:

1. Did the employee get along well with peers and managers?


2.  Did the employee go above and beyond what was being asked?


3.  Were there any issues regarding attendance or tardiness?


4. Why did the employee leave this position and did he or she leave on good terms?


5.  Would you hire this employee again?


A quick, brief call can save you a lot of grief down the line.  It may also reveal that an employee that looks mediocre on paper may actually be a jewel of your workforce.  References may be able to tout the best qualities of an employee better than the job candidate himself or herself.  In either case, the only way to find out how your candidate works in real life conditions is to investigate or allow a qualified employment screening service to do the heavy lifting for you.  You will be glad you made the investment.