You've got a candidate that you really like and think could be "the one."
Now, it's time to do a pre-employment background check to make sure you have the right candidate.
How do you get the most from a pre-employment background check? It's simple, but it will take some time. Run a criminal background check to make sure there are no surprises. Run a credit check to make sure there are no surprises. And most importantly, dive deep with references.
We'll spend the majority of our time in this article on how to do pre-employment background reference checks. Here's how to do them.
1. Know who to talk to.
Require the candidate to provide three references of previous bosses from their previous employers. Not co-workers. Not people who worked underneath them. Bosses.
The reason is that bosses know their employees better than anyone and aren't afraid to speak candidly about their strengths and weaknesses. Make sure to get their boss, or don't do the check at all.
2. Set up the conversation beforehand for at least 30 minutes of discussion.
Don't just call out of the blue. You're going to want to have a real conversation, and real conversations take time. Set up a time, let them know that your candidate provided them as a reference, and that you'd like to talk candidly for 30 minutes about your candidate.
3. Have a predetermined set of questions.
Get a solid list of questions together well before your conversation. Treat this as you would a candidate interview. You should envision how the conversation will go, and what you want out of the conversation. Identify the major questions you have about the candidate and where your doubts lie. All of these are great talking points for your reference call.
4. Help the reference feel comfortable.
Let the reference know that no one is perfect. Everyone has flaws and weaknesses. You just want to discover those weaknesses so you can potentially work with the candidate's weaknesses in their employment.
That simple statement will help set you up for a frank and candid conversation to confirm or deny your assumptions about the candidate.
5. Dive deep.
You're not out to make friends. You're out to learn everything you can about someone. Leave no stone unturned in your conversation. Ask your list of questions and more. Ask follow up questions and really focus on the areas where the candidate seems the weakest.
The more you know about the candidate, the better you can structure their employment situation at your company so that they succeed. Or, if you learn something negative that raises a red flag, perhaps you can make a decision that the candidate may not be the best fit.
You want to spend as much time with references as you do with the candidate. That's how you'll truly get the most out of a pre-employment background check.