Candidate References – what a waste of time!

Posted on August 27, 2015 by


Blog from Alan Clark, Senior Recruitment Consultant at The Urquhart Partnership.

referenceI have recently been following the coverage of the Fatal Accident Inquiry following the tragic bin lorry crash in Glasgow in December last year and as part of the inquiry, the issue of references taken by the Council on the driver has come to the forefront. It appears that the references provided to the Council were “satisfactory” but did not bring to light important details pertaining to his attendance record which may have led to concerns over his suitability for employment.

We have seen a greater propensity in recent years for employers to simply provide basic factual information on employees, such as start and end dates, job title and on some rare occasions, salary. It appears that many employers favour this standard approach to providing limited references for exiting employees as opposed to giving more thorough information on matters such as overall performance, attendance and punctuality. The likely reason for this is to avoid opening themselves up to potential claims by providing a more comprehensive, and dare I say a more accurate assessment of the individual. In essence, the more basic the information provided in the reference, the less chance there is for the previous employer to get themselves into trouble, and on that basis, who would blame them for adopting this approach?

However, given references are becoming more limited and bland, often offering little insight into the overall calibre of the employee throughout the course of their employment, how else can you ensure that your recruitment process is sufficiently robust to help you make a good hiring decision?

At The Urquhart Partnership, we provide consultancy advice to our clients to help them reach their end goal – namely recruiting the best candidate for the job. A number of our clients regularly utilise a range of measures to assess candidates. For example, we design and deliver comprehensive Assessment Centres to measure candidates against a number of behavioural and technical competencies for the job. Alternatively, in these challenging economic times, there are a range of other cost-effective measures that you can use to help add rigour to your selection process. For example, our team are Level A qualified to administer a range of ability tests which can provide an added measure when assessing candidates for a position. In addition, we are also qualified to administer a range of psychometric tools which can also add objectivity to the overall recruitment process. Reference checking remains an essential aspect of the recruitment process. However, investing a little in these additional candidate assessment tools can significantly enhance your recruitment decision making process and in the absence of a detailed reference on the candidate, could provide you with the peace of mind that a sound recruitment decision has been taken.

To explore how we can provide support to your recruitment process, please contact a member of our team on 01224 643465.