Friday, September 18, 2009

Are you in the process of hiring someone? Don't waste your time with traditional reference checking.

Many managers believe that checking references is a waste of time. After all, you ask candidates for lists of references, and are they likely to give you the names of referees who will give less-than-positive references? No, although it does happen.

Still, reference checks can make the difference between hiring one or the other of two equally qualified candidates (based on already-administered assessment tools and/or following other stages in a competitive process). In addition, references can often confirm the strengths and the weakness of candidates.

Other managers believe that reference checking is a necessary evil but overly time-consuming process, if they conduct the checks themselves, or expensive, if they hire a company or a consultant to do them.


We know that past performance is one of the strongest predictors of future performance, and that reference checking can reduce costs and increase productivity, by helping to ensure successful hires and ‘best fit' for positions.

Managers can minimize the risk of hiring an employee who won't be able to succeed in the new job if they take the time to try to find out about previous job performance, and they will also gain greater insights into the candidate's skills, knowledge and abilities from someone who has actually observed the candidate perform (e.g. former managers/supervisors).

Overall, checking references before making an offer is made by an employer can actually save time, money, effort, and a lot of embarrassment. And it has been shown that doing them right – using behaviourally-based or competency-based reference checks – are the only ones that add validity to the reference checking process.

In an attempt to help resolve the reference checking debate, Y2, a consulting firm located in the NCR, has developed and launched its Government Online Reference Check System. Since it was established in 2001, Y2CP has conducted thousands of behaviourally-based reference checks – primarily using traditional methods -- by phone/letter and in-person.

Y2's competency-based online RC system is intended to better serve its customers' needs. The copyrighted system was also created to reduce the length and the cost of the staffing process, meet modern staffing practices of the government of Canada, and assess key leadership competencies.

Developed by industrial psychologists and HR specialists, Y2's innovative online system is cost effective, efficient, valid and reliable, easy to use, flexible and comprehensive, in addition to being bilingual.

It costs a fraction of the price of a phone or in-person reference check and easily replaces time-consuming phone or face-to-face reference checks. The system is uncomplicated both for the client, in selecting the reference check questions, and for the referees, in completing the reference check on line. Clients can easily add their own competencies, behaviours and questions, to Y2's bank of more than 100 competencies - including key leadership competencies and behaviours. And Y2's online 360 reference check system allows referees to complete reference checks, as their time permits.

So why waste your time with traditional reference checking? Carrying out reference checks – online – is the way of the future in today's world of rapidly changing technology, competencies and work expectations.

Dr. Benzimra, Consulting Psychologist
L.Long, HRM Consultant
Y2 Consulting Psychologists

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