You know how much a bad hire can cost you. So it makes sense to look into avoiding that situation in the first place. Part of that process is checking references.
Used correctly, a reference can give you a snap shot of the candidate’s previous track record. However, in these litigious times, getting an actual recommendation or reference is much harder. These days, previous employers will stick to the facts that YOU provide to them. But facts really don’t tell you anything you don’t already know.
Dr. Pierre Mornell, author of A New System for Hiring that Shows You How to Predict Winners and Losers in the Incredibly Expensive People-Reading Game, offers a tip that’s legal and simple and yet provides great results.
Call references at a time when you believe they will be out of the office such as lunchtime. You want to reach their voice mail or their assistant. If you reach the assistant, make sure he/she hears the key phrase: “John Doe is a candidate for [insert position here] with our company. [Reference name] has been provided as a reference. Please call me back if the candidate was outstanding.”
Dr. Mornell says results from this approach are immediate and revealing. When the person is outstanding, people want to help and will call back immediately. This is your green light. If only one or two people call from your list of eight, it’s time to start interviewing again.