Rethinking References In The Hiring Process

Resumes are often misleading, and most companies are aware of this. That’s why HR departments devote so much energy finding other ways to select the best candidates. Yet, many employers still depend on resumes as hiring tools.

Of course, one of the main reasons that resumes are misleading is that people can lie, and they often do. Even if they don’t make outrageously false claims, they may stretch the truth in their favor. Likewise, they may omit less flattering characteristics in order to make themselves appear more appealing.

This is where an employee’s references come in. Though not all companies call the individuals on these lists, many still refer to them as useful tools. Indeed, they feel that these references will shed light on a person’s true nature, while a resume could be self-promotion.

What Makes an Ideal Reference

It doesn’t always have to be a manager giving a reference, or even a supervisor. In fact, it is often better to get references from colleagues rather than those in positions of authority. At times, managers only see one perspective on an employee. An individual may act positive and productive on these occasions, but the moment that they are left alone they may completely transform. It is important to know the way that someone acts when they feel natural.

With that in mind, colleagues may not be the best source of information, either. For example, some offices form cliques, and therefore one person’s opinion will vary from another. In fact, one person’s glowing review of a particular person may actually hide how poorly he or she behaved. What’s more, it’s hard to determine how credible these random colleagues are. A reference from the least motivated person in the office basically means nothing.

Resumes and Potential

No matter who is giving the resume, very few people can truly say they know an individual’s full range of capabilities. Furthermore, many managers clash with their employees. When this happens, many skilled candidates fail to get high appraisals from their employers. Rather than acknowledging a personal conflict, the person giving the reference may view the individual in a less positive light.

Ultimately, the best way to avoid this type of confusion is by administering pre-employment testing. Depending on references leaves important choices up to the fallibility of human judgment. It also ensures that candidates with the highest amount of potential are selected, rather than those with fluffed up resumes.

A psychometric assessment allows employers to do determine exactly what kind of workplace aptitude a candidate has. These tests measure a candidate’s innate personality traits to determine how suitable they are for a given role. Moreover, they are able to discover a range of skills, such as interpersonal, problem-solving, and work ethic. These skills, more loosely defined as “soft-skills,” often matter more down the line than previous work experience. Indeed, technical skills may be taught, but emotional intelligence is something employers can’t teach.