Neil Bromage has run his own small business and is a freelance business writer working on a range of newspapers including The Times, Sunday Times, Telegraph and Financial Mail on Sunday. This book is based on a wide range of columns and Q&As written and answered by Neil for Business Link over a number of years. He is based near Preston, Lancs.
Taking on staff can be a costly business in itself and so making sure you get the best person for the job can be vital. Checking references thoroughly can help you to avoid the unnecessary costs of repeating the process. It can help to ensure that the applicant has given correct details of previous occupations and employers and has had relevant experience to the position on offer.
Methods of checking references can include:
- Telephone: it helps to verify the telephone number and address of any previous employer before contacting them. Try to speak with both the company manager and the candidate’s direct superior if possible.
- Written confirmation: this will give you the smallest amount of information, but you will probably get a response from this method (include a stamped addressed reply envelope), whereas you may not from others.
- Personal visit: this is a time-consuming but useful method of checking references, allowing you to speak face-to-face with the applicant’s previous employer, and often to gain more relevant information than with a relatively short telephone call.
- Contracting out: there are a number of specialist recruitment agencies that will verify references.
What can previous employers tell you?
- Confirmation of details received: it is useful to verify the basic details of the applicant’s employment – duration, position, nature of the work and so on.
- Reliability and punctuality: determining punctuality, reliability and capacity for hard work are all important.
- Reason for leaving the job: does their version of their reason for leaving tally with that given by the employer?
- Relationships with clients, customers and colleagues: you will need to find out whether the applicant works well with their associates, especially if they will be working within a team.