How to Avoid Bad Fit with Employee References

How to Avoid Bad Fit with Employee References

Good employees will work hard and help create a great culture for your business, but a bad employee, on the other hand, will spread negative attitudes that can be disastrous for your team. This bad fit will eventually have a negative impact on your business’ profit and growth. As small businesses grow it can be increasingly difficult to maintain an authentic company culture. According to the Small Business report, 38 % of small businesses in the survey have plans to hire more employees over the next year and 42% of small business owners identified hiring new talent as their biggest challenge in 2016.

In cases like this, the job applicant’s references can be extremely valuable. There are two ways to get references that provide a holistic image of a potential candidate. Firstly, your current employees can prove to be a great asset and provide valuable references that can help avoid a bad employee fit and secondly calling or writing to a potential candidate’s former employee can also prove to be helpful. Part of the hiring process is checking the background of prospective employees who you are seriously considering for your open position. Every background check should include checking with an applicant’s former employers and other professional and personal references. You don’t necessarily want to check every applicant’s references but any candidate who is in the running beyond the early stages of the hiring process should have a reference check which is thoroughly documented.  

References from within the company:

Your current employees can work as a great tool when it comes to hiring new people. It is the most cost effective and practical way of figuring out if the employee is a good fit or not. They can tell you a lot about a potential candidate’s work ethic and also help verify their past experiences. When the time comes to fill an open position make sure to communicate with your entire staff when a position is opening up, and let people know that the company is open to considering employee references. Referred candidate’s have an advantage of being familiar with the employee and your company’s work culture which makes it easy to train them. Your current employee might have also already evaluated the person’s strengths and weaknesses or observed him or her in action over the years. Employers are in a better position to know if the employee will be a good fit or not if they are referred by people from within the company.  

Former employment references:

Former employers are in a good position to tell you about an applicant’s work history. When you talk with former employers, ask for specific examples of times when the applicant demonstrated positive traits and how they fit into their company. They can vouch for their references to avoid a bad hire. Generally you can check references by either calling or writing to them and have a standard script ready for things you would like to ask. Candidate’s former employees can also give you an idea about his or her work ethic. They have worked with them before so they understand their work habits and if or not they fit into their work culture. You can also ask them how they work in a team if that’s important for the position you are trying to fill in. When verifying work history, always include a sample letter for checking employment reference. You can personalize it and customize it, but don’t add questions that may violate any anti-discrimination laws to which you are subject.

References from your network:

Large scale companies are increasingly using people in their network to find new hires, saving time and money but lengthening the odds for job seekers without connections, especially among the long-term unemployed. Majority of the surveys show that this trend has been amplified since the end of the recession by a tight job market and by employee networks on LinkedIn and Facebook, which can help employers find candidates more quickly. It also helps ensure that candidate might be a better fit for your company since the people in your network can give you a better sense of how they are in a work environment. It’s also just easier to connect on social networks than it used to be. In particular, LinkedIn has altered the hiring landscape, making it easy for recruiting departments to trace connections between job candidates and their own employees by using LinkedIn’s database and software.

Referral programs carry important benefits for big companies. Besides avoiding hefty payouts to recruiters, referred employees are 15 % less likely to quit, according to Giorgio Topa, one of the authors of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York study. Human resource departments have recognized the same pattern. And notice that referred hires perform better, stay longer and are quicker to integrate into their teams.


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