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Screening Applicants Hiring Reference Checking

We have an applicant whose resume looks good, and the manager who interviewed him said that he came across well. When I asked about the applicant’s references, the manager showed me three positive letters from his previous employers. In light of his resume, interview, and letters, the manager said there is no need for references. Do you agree?

With many applicants mixing fact with fiction, it is important to take references on every candidate whom you are seriously considering hiring. A reference check is actually a reality check.

It is easy and tempting for applicants to embellish their resumes with positions, titles, and degrees that they never held or earned. In fact, some candidates are even advised to overstate their qualifications in order to stand out from the rest. And do you really think an applicant would ever show a potential employer a negative letter? Most references would not even dare to write such a letter. And further, some of the glowing letters are fake from top to bottom. Although your applicant interviewed well, the sad truth is that the best con artists can present themselves well and are often highly skilled interviewees.

Even if your calls to an applicant’s references yield nothing more than validation of his or her employment dates and job title, at least you have verification of some of the information that the applicant has provided. Without some kind of background check, you have a far greater chance of hiring a problem employee, and this can easily lead to myriad problems for you and your company.

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