girl smiling and writing something down while she talks with someoneAnyone who has worked as a hiring manager has probably seen many references to past employers, family friends, and more. In my experience I even saw an application once that listed the candidate’s mother as a reference! These references are a great way to see the kinds of relationships that a candidate has, so I was surprised to learn that several companies in my area don’t even call the references candidates list on applications. If that’s the case with your company, you should change your policy immediately, and here’s why:

1. You can find out if the applicant is a good worker. Notice that I didn’t say a “hard” worker (although that is also important), but a “good” worker. Sometimes applicants are very qualified for a position, but they don’t fit with your company anyway. Maybe they aren’t a team player, or maybe their personality is a mismatch for your company. Whatever the reason, talking with a past employer or leader who can help you understand how an applicant functioned in a previous team, giving you insight on how he or she might function on your team. a man getting interviewed

2. You can follow up on questions from the interview. If you ever feel like a potential employee is refraining from giving you the whole story about a past incident or if you feel like the candidate was nervous, giving you a less-than-stellar first impression, talking to an old boss or colleague can help you understand what he or she is like on a day-to-day basis. If you are on the fence about hiring a candidate, hearing what former employers have to say can make a huge difference!

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