Small Business Tips: A Quick Guide To Checking References When Hiring

Cut down on personnel turnover and save your company time and money by doing reference checks on all new employees.

In today's business world it really doesn't matter how big or how small you are when it comes to checking references. It is a major step in protecting your business. Every job application should include each job the applicant has held, with start and ending date, reason for leaving and references as to who to contact at each job.

It is also advisable to have at least five other references. Each application should have a space for applicant to sign a release saying it is OK to contact the references. Any reference letter from a former professor or colleague, or business is helpful but should be followed up on. Calls should be made to verify the letter.

And the best way to check any reference is either in person or by phone. Most letter requests will end up in the trash or be set aside and ignored. No matter how you chose to do your references either in person or by phone, make sure you assure the person you are talking to that all information will be strictly confidential.

Once all this is set aside it is time for the questions. You will be asking those old "Who, what, when, where, and how" type questions. Questions such as:

--When did the applicant start working for the company, when did they leave?

NOTE: This should match what you have on the application, if not a light should go on something is wrong.

--What was the person's title?

--What were their duties?

--Did they supervise any people?

--How did you consider the candidate's overall performance?

Besides the reference check you may want to also do a background check on the individual you are hiring.

--Would you hire this person again? Why or why not?

--How many times a month were they absent from work?

--How many times a month were they late for work?

--Did they leave work early, why?

--Did this person have any conflicts with co-workers?

--How did this person do their job as far as handling difficult tasks?

Many companies fail to do reference checks because the person doing the hiring is so sold on the individual at the time of the interview that they are hoodwinked and later on down the road when it is to late they are interviewing to fill the spot again. So take your time and do it right and you will save time and money in the long run.

Besides reference checks, doing a background check also on individuals may save your business from financial ruin. Employee theft can be more of a problem in a business then shoplifting. Also many small business bookkeepers have bankrupt companies due to embezzlement.

Companies licensed to do investigations should handle background checks. Doing a background check can be as extensive as checking other states or as little as just doing a local criminal history check through your local courthouse. The one problem such as in New York is that the local town and village justice courts handle all the misdemeanor cases, which will not show up in the county court file.

County courts handle all felony cases such as burglary, assault, robbery, and child abuse. So by just checking the County Criminal court and finding nothing, you may be hiring a person who has been arrested numerous times for shoplifting, harassment, disorderly conduct and simple assaults or even small drug charges. These town and village cases will not show when you are doing a criminal history check on the county level because the cases have been disposed of in the local courts and all records are kept at those locations.

Time and money spent doing reference and background checks is money well spent on protecting your business no matter what the size.

© High Speed Ventures 2011