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Employers: Not Checking References is a Big Mistake

Some employers have stopped checking references.

We have several clients that don’t request reference checks before extending offers. After all, references can seem so passe. And who wants the extra paperwork? The argument against checking references is that everyone can find three people to vouch for their performance. 

Therefore, it has been concluded that references are irrelevant. We’ve learned invaluable information about our sales candidates from checking references.

Reference checks can give hiring managers essential guidance about getting the best out of new sales hire.

If you decide checking references isn’t worth the hassle, you’ll miss out on more than just paperwork. 

You’ll miss valuable insights you could use immediately to help your new hire feel cared about. You’ll also miss out on creating an onboarding experience where your new hire can quickly ramp up and become a productive team member.

After working so hard to get a new sales hire on your team, it’s imperative the new relationship starts off strong.

 Don’t put a strong start at risk by not learning enough about your new hire to make the first 90 days meaningful and productive. If you choose not to check references, you could risk having your new hire onboard in less optimal ways.

For example, maybe your new hire appreciates in-person contact. If you checked their references, you’d know they value one-on-one meetings. This might mean inviting them to the office for onboarding makes sense. 

Checking references can help you learn more about how your new hire will work best, what kind of environment they do well in, and how high or low touch you may need to be as their manager.

Here’s how references can help you discover about your new hire.

#1. Use references to discuss the work environment.

During the reference check, inquire about the environment your new hire will perform best in. 

If your new sales hire likes to work in a team environment, make sure they have plenty of interaction with teammates in their first 90 days. Have other reps reach out and introduce themselves and offer help.

If you find out they enjoy mentoring colleagues, make sure you get them signed up to mentor others when they’ve settled in their roles. 

Maybe your new hire just had a baby and wants to work early mornings for six months. See what you can do to accommodate their schedules. 

Sometimes it takes checking a reference or two to find out more about the person you’re hiring. This information can help you better prepare for their arrival and make sure they have a successful start.

#2. Inquire about areas of professional development.

One of the biggest reasons why people seek new roles is because they don’t feel they are growing professionally.

Now, this could mean they don’t feel they are learning new skills. Or it could mean they don’t see career growth for themselves in a particular company. So if you’re checking references, it’s crucial to find out how this person has grown over time, what challenges they undertook, and how they thrived in adversity. 

In addition, reference checking can help you learn how your new hire will deal with upcoming adverse situations, if they thrive taking on heavier workloads, or if they have a burning passion for getting promoted into leadership.

#3. Investigate your new hire's ability to adapt, learn, and take on new challenges.

You can find out your new hire’s ability to handle and tolerate challenges. 

The truth is, every salesperson is different. What one salesperson loves, another may vehemently dislike. For example, some reps love to roleplay. Others break out in anger when asked to participate in informal training roleplays. Uncovering these things in advance can help avoid adverse situations in the future. 

What better way to customize an employee’s experience than to learn more about your new hire during the reference check so you can help guide their onboarding experience.

Now, next time you think references are passe, remember all the valuable lessons you can learn from meeting with your new hire’s former colleagues, bosses, and mentors. 

Always Check References

Take the opportunity to check references, not as a pass or fail, but as an opportunity to learn from others who’ve worked with your new hire. By connecting with their former team members, you can leave the conversation with valuable insights into your new hire’s thinking, behaviors, and expectations.

So go ahead and shorten the sales interview process but don’t stop checking references.