There are many good reasons why third parties like us do better at pre-employment screening than an organization can do themselves. These are just a few.
- Time and resources
If there are two things that are scarce in a business it is time and energy. If your HR group is operating strategically as business partners with internal customers then putting valuable staff resources into reference checking and verifying work histories and education is a poor allocation of time and energy that is better spent on partnering with the business leaders. If your head count is able to absorb this additional work that comes in peaks and valleys you are either not operating as business partners effectively or the CEO has been highly generous with the staffing numbers.
- People speak more candidly to third parties
One of the most comment from referees at the end of our interviews is how much more candid they were with us than if it had been the company who called them directly. The research on this has never been clear as to why but there is no research that disputes the value of data that comes from independent third parties. This is also proven when we do exit interviews over the phone or online.
- Better information on which to make good hiring decisions and on boarding new hires
From the moment the job candidate fills out the consent and authorization forms the employer is gathering information and when it arrives at our office we often spot discrepancies between the dates and positions on the resume and the signed documents that indicate the person could be terminated for cause if the information is falsified. The information on the forms speaks to the organizational skills and the quality of the referees they can line up. Nothing is worse when a referee is called by us and is surprised.
Your hiring managers and HR have already met the potential new hires and formed a solid view of them from the resume and interviews that both have participated in. Following a second interview you have a pretty good picture of the role and achievements and potential issues that you are not fully convinced about. To complete the picture handing off the reference checking to a third party greatly improves the chances that you will either gain more information or even confirm what you believe.
We have interviewed Managing Directors and I recall asking this MD if the manager had achieved 80% of budget as stated on the resume. He put the phone on hold and pulled the data confirming that this was true. It looked pretty good until he asked if I wanted to know what happened after this person was replaced. Of course I said yes. Six months after the new manager was in place they were at 130% of budget and within a year 180% of that budget and staff turnover in their flagship location went from disturbing to zero.
In a meeting with a logistics VP who had requested a meeting after he provided a reference for our client he noted that for most of his technical jobs they had a pretty good handle on the industry and the people but if he knew a bit more about a number of his hires in the past two years they wouldn’t be working there.
We checked out three finalists for a very senior country marketing director for a Fortune 500 firm last year. It was a bit surprising when the client chose the person that I’d have ranked number two simply due to his abrasiveness and the fact that the referees who were country presidents and senior VPs all indicated that he drove them crazy with his desire for constant promotions. I recently asked the client in the USA HR group how it was working out. He said that the country president called him that month and mentioned how these issues had cropped up already but that he could manage it as he anticipated this. The senior recruiting person said if that information had been provided by HR it might have got missed and that phone would not have been very friendly and certainly not complimentary.
What we find with our clients is that they don’t panic or not hire a person due to an improvement need or something that they know they can manage. In fact it helps them put the person on the right track from the induction to the career plan as well as ensure that their manager knows what the person’s key issues might be. Our clients find it far easier to accept a reference if there are honest areas of improvement stated.
- Hiring managers don’t want to hear negative news from HR
If a hiring manager is already in love with the job candidate any negative reports generated by the HR department are likely to fall onto deaf ears.
We have clients who hire us solely for that reason. They have hiring managers who tell them they don’t care what the referees say, they won’t listen. Apparently, they listen to independent referees though.
- Improved cycle time and reduced vacancies
One of the key benefits of external interviewers like our firm is we work across the time zones. On a typical day at our office our staff could be calling to the UK, Germany, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, North America as well as closer to Hong Kong places like China, Vietnam, South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, India and so on.
We have Fortune 500 clients who measure both the cost and time of hiring while the managers report on vacancies as well as turnover. If a position is essential you cannot afford down time.