It is absurd, crazy, dumb and totally absent of common sense when a hiring manager doesn’t call a candidate’s references. There is absolutely no excuse to justify skipping this essential step.
Puh-lease become evangelical about calling references. I promise it will pay off huge for you every time.
Here’s how it’s done:
1. Explain to the candidate that your goal is to speak with a minimum of four references. You expect her help to ensure that the references take and/or return your calls.
2. Call ahead and book a phone appointment with the reference and ask for 15 minutes of their time.
3. Write a list of questions. Each one should be about what the candidate does, says or believes.
4. Take notes. Or put the call on speakerphone and have someone else take notes. (You think you’ll remember, but you won’t). Write down what the reference says (not your perceptions).
5. Push for specific answers and examples. Say things like, tell me more, please give me an example and can you explain that further.
6. Listen for tone of voice (are the answers enthusiastic)? Listen for important pauses (as in uh oh, how should I answer that)?
7. Don’t stop until you’ve spoken with four references. Yes, these are people who will say nice things, but developing your skill as an interviewer will go a long way toward revealing the truth.