References: Why They Are Worthless
By Cheryl Mayfield – Grafton Staffing
If you’ve ever applied for a job, a school, a loan, or even just an apartment lease, then chances are very good that you’ve been asked to provide a list of references that can speak to your outstanding character. Organizations will typically ask for these references because it makes them feel at ease granting you whatever it is that you’re applying for. In theory, references are a great idea because they add something that feels like “tangible proof” that you’re a qualified/deserving applicant.
However, references can be very misleading, costly, and a general waste of time.
For example, if I’m applying for a job that I want, then of course I’m going to paint a picture of how qualified I am… even if that means stretching the truth a little bit.
Now, if you’re an employer considering me for employment, you’ll probably want to run a personal reference check to make sure that your new applicant is as wonderful as they claim. The issue with the personal reference is that I can simply ask a friend to give me a good review when the company calls. I can ask them to back up whatever wonderful qualifications I made up.
Reference checks are easy to fake. Just look at the reference scandal that is currently in the news with Lori Loughlin, faking her daughter’s college admission records.
You may be thinking that you’ll just check the person’s profile on LinkedIn to ensure that they worked at the same company. And while it’s a good idea to verify people on LinkedIn, chances are very good that they made some kind of friend when they were with this company and are using them to bolster their reputation or skill set. You have now been wrongfully misled by a reference check.
Some jobs require applicants to list their supervisors as references to make it a little more difficult to dupe the system.
Supervisors are harder to reach since their schedules are typically more demanding. You may be waiting days to a full week before you hear back from them on a reference check. Even once you do hear back, there is no guarantee as to what kind of information they’ll be able to provide on your candidate. They may have only worked with them in passing and in some cases, companies are not allowed to comment on a worker’s performance, positive or negative, for fear of law suits.
You’ve now wasted valuable time in the hiring process. This might cost you your candidate as the job market is hot and offers are being made quickly.
Essentially, a reference check is rarley going to get you concrete information or insight on your candidate, but may cost you lot of time getting the feedback. Instead, I would recommend asking thorough questions that will help to identify whether or not a candidate is qualified, while they are sitting in front of you during the interview!