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Informal Reference Checks Are Problematic. Here are 5 Ways How To Fix That

Reference checks are an integral part of the hiring process. It is the easiest way to learn about your candidate's past performance. Also, you can gather insights into how well your candidate relates with others from this process. 

You can either follow the informal reference check or the more traditional formal route. In this post, we'll concentrate on the informal way. 

What Is an Informal Reference Check? 

Also known as backdoor checks or deep reference checks, informal reference checks are conducted through sources not listed on the candidate's resume. 

While they are still controversial in some sectors, others find them necessary. But truth be told, they are widely used to determine prospective candidates' aptitude and skills. 

References provided by the candidate are going to give you glowing feedback about the candidate. But it may not be useful if the reference does not work directly with the candidate. As a result, backdoor reference checks have become a necessity. 

Since the reference checking is done most of the time without the candidate's knowledge, a few problems may arise. 

[Read More: Reference Check Questions]

Problems With Informal Reference Checks 

Lack of transparency through informal reference checks

There is always a chance it may get back to the candidate. If it does, regardless of whether the feedback was positive or negative, the candidate may end up being skeptical of the hiring manager and the organization at large. 

In turn, the skepticism may lead to the loss of a quality candidate

Candidate's confidentiality breach 

If information about a candidate's job search gets back to the employer, it may lead to an awkward situation at their current place of employment. In addition, they may lose interest in the process. 

Much of the time, people do not want their current employer to know they are looking for opportunities elsewhere. 

[Read More: Reference Checks Via Email]

Unsubstantive feedback in informal reference checks

Since most of the sources used in informal reference checks do not work directly with the candidate, most of the data you get will not be useful. 

Hiring managers usually choose referees who are well known to them for deep reference checks. Most of the information gathered may have nothing to do with how well a candidate can perform their duties. It is mostly hearsay or biased unfairly towards the candidate. 

Informal reference checks can cause inequity in the hiring process 

Performing reference checks only among people known to you may give some an unfair advantage and bias others. This is mainly because not all the candidates will have the same opportunities to connect with those in your network. You may end up dismissing someone due to a factor they have no control over. 

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Tips To Avoid Problems With Informal Reference Checking 

  • Ensure the candidate provides you with written permission to get reference checks on them. 
  • Regardless of who your source is to you, presume they will always pass the information back to your candidate. 
  • Unless the candidate okays it, never contact anyone from their current place of employment. 
  • Go for credible sources only. But even then, don't rely on their words blindly as they can be biased for many reasons other than poor work performance. 
  • Recruiters should pass on any information they gather from backdoor reference checks to candidates if they give the same information to clients. This way, a candidate knows why you did not hire them in case of a rejection. 

Advantages of a Structured Reference Check 

In contrast to a casual conversation, a structured reference check can give more helpful information. It also ensures there is equity among candidates being considered for the same position. That said, the referees are all based on the same guidelines, and they are all asked the same questions.  

Reference checking can either be digital or manual, with digital checking being more efficient. Crosschq 360 in fact saves you up to 95% more time as it is quick,  candidate-friendly, and removes unconscious bias from the hiring process.

Schedule a demo to see how easy and efficient Crosschq can make reference checking for your company.

Carla Firpo

by Carla Firpo

Talent Acquisition Specialist

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