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HR Hypocrisy: Some HR Managers Prefer Not to Provide a Reference



Recruitment Risk Index findings

Our latest Recruitment Risk Index  (RRI) uncovered a potential hypocrisy in reference checking among HR professionals in Canada. While it is considered important and is highly valued, it is also seen unfavourably when the tables are turned and HR personnel assume the role of the referee.

In fact, 86% of the HR professionals we surveyed said their organisation values the reference checking process but 41% said, given the chance, they would choose not to provide a reference for a past employee.

So, where’s the disconnect?

Inconsistent reference checking approaches

The absence of standardisation and consistency in phone-based reference checking methods are a key cause for the diminished confidence in the process. When reference checking is not regulated, its value is lost given a lack of assurance in the information gathered.

Past Experiences

The disconnect may also come down to personal bad experiences, as 40% of respondents said their main concern was the chance of being asked more than they feel comfortable with. In fact, we are now seeing more and more companies adopting the ‘no reference checks’ policy where managers are not allowed to provide references for past employees.

There are a number of myths, such as the risk of being sued for a negative reference, shrouding the process which, in turn, cause concern when traditional, conversation approaches are taken that lack standardisation and consistency.

Candidates exploiting reference checking flaws

Candidates are also seeing the issues in this respect, with 84% of the job seekers surveyed saying there is room for improvement in the current approach and 48% admitting they believe the process in its current form is a formality which doesn’t help employers determine if they will be a good fit for the company.

If candidates cannot see value in the process, they’re unlikely to give it the priority it should take and will often exploit flaws in the process to improve their chances of securing a role. The fact that candidates can manipulate the process to their advantage completely defeats the purpose of a task designed to gather unbiased, independent information about the suitability of a candidate for a role.

Good recruitment processes lead to great hires

The current, cautious approach to the practice, led by poor reference checking methods, is a key cause for the hypocrisy we’re seeing.

This not only impacts the performance of individual organisations but could have a long-term effect on the strength of the Canadian talent pool. We have a duty as HR and recruitment professionals to ensure that the right people are employed for the right roles, and good reference checking is critical to making it happen.

It’s clear that this crucial step of the recruitment process is losing its value. Instead, the industry is relying on gut feelings and trust in the candidate and referee to make the final hiring decisions.

To better understand the risks posed by poor recruitment processes, get your free copy of the full Recruitment Risk Index report here.

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