Once you have identified potential candidates or applicants, as a result of your preferred talent acquisition sourcing, there are several steps you must take to increase the odds of a positive hiring outcome. It is definitely a calculated risk to employ another person.

An initial telephone call to the candidate will often save you tears, heartbreak and hours of otherwise wasted time in meeting candidates who are not even close to what you are looking for. Meeting an applicant or candidate, only to realise after five minutes, that both of you are red faced and embarrassed by the situation. That situation could be because English is not spoken at the necessary level; turns out that a native English speaker wrote the resume for a friend. Or you too late realise that the individual must honour a 3 months notice for a job you have to fill within weeks. Or there is a non-compete clause that makes it impossible to offer the job to an otherwise perfect candidate. All things you could have checked in a five minute telephone conversation.  

When you call references I recommend that you do not call their mobile telephone number. Instead insist that you get the company contact details to ensure you will be talking to the right person in the right company.

In addition to the names provided by the candidate, try to call the HR departments of the companies where your candidate has worked more recently. But if it is more than five years ago, many HR files will no longer exist or they may be at a remote location. Dead end.

Some questions you can ask HR: did our candidate work in your company and what was the period? What was the last position? Did our candidate resign or was s/he dismissed? How was the separation from your company, any litigation?

After introducing yourself to the reference person or HR department, say: “Would you like to call me back, just to make sure I’m the person I say I am? Our company telephone number is 01 234 5678. Or should we just go ahead?”

If you call references try a 360 degree check. It involves superiors, peers, sub-ordinates, customers and suppliers. Here are examples of questions you can ask (in addition to those mentioned under HR above): In which company and period did you work together? What were our candidate’s responsibilities and duties? What work behaviour was most admired about our candidate? In terms of personality and attitude, how is our candidate remembered by you? If you had a chance to work with our candidate again, would you; or not? Were there any domestic, personal or financial difficulties that interfered with the work? Was there any time our candidate’s honesty and integrity had to be questioned? What advice would you give our candidate’s next employer?