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Operations: The Importance of References When Hiring


Be honest: When looking to fill an open position at your club, do you always check the references of candidates you’re seriously considering?

With how strapped everyone is for time nowadays, I bet the answer to that question is “no.”

This could be a fatal mistake. Although it may seem like a waste of time if you already feel great about a candidate, checking references can provide great insight into their working habits, how well they work on a team, strengths and weaknesses, and other crucial info that can indicate how well they’ll do the job you’re potentially hiring them to do.

Here are some questions to ask the people listed.

  • What is your relationship to the candidate?
  • Can you describe the candidate’s work performance?
  • Was the candidate accountable to performing his or her job duties?
  • What are the candidate’s strengths?
  • What are the candidate’s weaknesses, and do you think they can be overcome in the first 90 days of training?
  • Did the candidate receive any promotions or increases in responsibility while at your company?
  • What was it like to have the candidate as a teammate or employee?
  • Was the candidate a valuable member of your team?
  • Would you hire him or her again?
  • Is there anything else I should know?

If you’re on the fence about a candidate, checking references could give you the extra info needed to determine if or not a candidate is worth hiring. Or if you’re already feeling great about a candidate, it can make that decision to hire even easier.

Here are some red flags to watch out for when checking references:

  • All the references are friends or family of the candidate.
  • Time frames or job titles aren’t matching up with what the candidate told you.
  • The person you’re chatting with is extremely vague with their answers.
  • They admit they wouldn’t hire the person again.

Again, references are a great tool in the hiring process. Use them. Otherwise, you may find yourself trying to fill an open spot once again a few months down the road.

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko is the editor-in-chief of Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at rachel@peakemedia.com.

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