Hold Those Reference Calls

I’ve noticed a trend on applications in recent years, requiring submission of references to call before the candidate is even interviewed.   That truly perplexes my clients, and I have to say myself as well. 

The whole idea of having references to call is to determine truthfulness of tasks performed and achievements professed, what the candidate is like as a person  versus what they say in the interview, and to unearth possible weaknesses or issues.  You lose out on discovery with potential candidates when you contact references prior to an interview.  You don’t have the advantage of evaluating the candidate first regarding weak areas or answers to questions that cause concern.  These are subjects where you might have issue and would want to dig deeper with their references.   From ascertaining that the candidate didn’t contact references before listing them to gauging interviewee honesty, you need to talk to the applicant first.

Hold Those Reference Calls

Hold off on those calls as a Headhunter, HR Manager or Hiring Manager, and learn more about the candidate before wasting the reference call by contacting too early in the process.  While an interviewee may indeed communicate with their references after an interview; crafting a well-thought out set of questions can frequently overcome any “candidate reference coaching.”  Whether it is the answer, or lack of an answer from a reference, verbal cues can be assessed and their veracity can be gauged.  Interview a candidate first, then call their references, or miss out on some important information for your hiring decision.    


Karen Silins is a multi-certified, award winning resume writer, career, business and personal branding coach working with individuals and small businesses.  After graduating with degrees in education and vocal performance, she made her own career transition into the Human Resources realm.  Karen left Human Resources to become an entrepreneur and help jobseekers and fellow entrepreneurs achieve their goals.  She keeps current regarding trends in the resume writing, coaching, HR, small business and marketing industries by working daily with individual clients on resume development and career coaching, consulting for small businesses in business plan development, marketing, blogging, hiring and overall HR processes, and providing 50-70+ seminars and workshops annually to a variety of organizations in the greater Kansas City area.  She can be reached via her website at www.careerandresume.com.