The first step in planning your reference checking is knowing who to call and choosing who to call.  If possible, you want to speak with the most unbiased people possible about the candidate.  Yes, the candidate submitted them as a reference because they believe the person will say positive things about them.  However, it’s possible to talk to a reference that is both positive and objective.  With that in mind, here are some of the individuals you may want to target:

  • Previous supervisors
  • Peers
  • Mentors (if applicable)
  • Colleagues (including subordinates, if appropriate)

In regards to obtaining objective and unbiased information, previous supervisors and mentors are valuable resources.  However, as you might expect, you’ll have to secure the candidate’s permission in order to make that phone call.  Otherwise, you might be putting the candidate’s current job at risk, and that’s a development that could definitely jeopardize the hire.

Identify who you should call when you’re checking references, and make sure that your list is filled with people you believe will provide you with unbiased information.  This is the crucial first step in ensuring that your reference checks are as effective as possible.