Gisela Lesar, human resources director at G4S Namibia. Photo Contributed
Gisela Lesar, human resources director at G4S Namibia. Photo Contributed

Are reference checks outdated?

Change tactics
Many organisations do not feel comfortable giving up on reference checks, but perhaps it is time to change the way they are done to enhance their value.
Gisela Lesar
Most organisations conduct reference checks not only to verify employee information, but also as part of compliance.However, is this practice outdated? In my experience, 95% of reference checks are positive, and that is enough to raise suspicion that they could not all be accurate. I personally would never put a reference on my resume that would outright say something bad about me, so why would anyone else? So do reference checks truly give an accurate picture of a candidate?

In my experience, not always. Not to question the integrity of candidates, but I have done a few references where I was pretty sure that the person on the other line was not a previous line manager but rather a friend or family member. There are instances where line managers want to get rid of certain "problem" employees and therefore give great references.

It is also not always great for the employee. Sometimes employees leave a company due to toxic leadership – imagine having to use that person as a reference. The knife cuts both ways.

It is also very time-consuming and can be pretty annoying for a previous manager to have to sit and talk for 30 minutes while they are busy at work.



Change strategy

So is the answer to just skip reference checks? Maybe not completely, but it is possible to change the game plan a little bit. Firstly, start by interviewing better, assessing better, and asking more probing reference questions. If possible, let the candidate demonstrate a skill that you are looking for, e.g., typing.

Ask a candidate primarily for a former manager’s number and focus on three key areas: cultural fit, personality fit and performance.

Cultural fit can help a recruiter determine if an employee will fit into the organisation. Before making an offer, it is critical to determine whether a candidate is toxic, like-minded and adaptable.

Personality fit is not a question of whether a person’s personality is a fit for the organisation but rather an indication of how the employee needs to be managed. Asking behavioural questions can provide a good indication of how employees react in certain circumstances.

Together with asking about specific performance, companies should find out what major drivers keep workers motivated and engaged. Each employee is driven by particular rewards or strategies. Companies can determine whether or not they can realistically keep the potential employee interested by understanding this during the interview stage.

There is no perfect answer.

Many organisations do not feel comfortable giving up on reference checks altogether, which I can relate to. So maybe it is time to change the way we do them. Let’s focus on three key areas that can add value to the organisation and stop asking questions that don’t, for the benefit of both the organisation and the candidate.



Gisela Lesar is the human resources director at G4S Namibia.

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Allgemeine Zeitung 2024-05-24

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SerieA: Cagliari 2 vs 3 Fiorentina Katima Mulilo: 12° | 30° Rundu: 11° | 30° Eenhana: 11° | 31° Oshakati: 12° | 30° Ruacana: 13° | 31° Tsumeb: 14° | 28° Otjiwarongo: 12° | 27° Omaruru: 11° | 28° Windhoek: 10° | 24° Gobabis: 12° | 25° Henties Bay: 15° | 29° Wind speed: 25km/h, Wind direction: SE, Low tide: 09:43, High tide: 03:39, Low Tide: 21:53, High tide: 16:11 Swakopmund: 16° | 21° Wind speed: 22km/h, Wind direction: S, Low tide: 09:41, High tide: 03:37, Low Tide: 21:51, High tide: 16:09 Walvis Bay: 19° | 28° Wind speed: 26km/h, Wind direction: S, Low tide: 09:41, High tide: 03:36, Low Tide: 21:51, High tide: 16:08 Rehoboth: 11° | 26° Mariental: 14° | 27° Keetmanshoop: 15° | 27° Aranos: 13° | 27° Lüderitz: 15° | 25° Ariamsvlei: 16° | 29° Oranjemund: 10° | 20° Luanda: 24° | 26° Gaborone: 12° | 25° Lubumbashi: 13° | 28° Mbabane: 12° | 22° Maseru: 7° | 21° Antananarivo: 10° | 20° Lilongwe: 14° | 27° Maputo: 17° | 27° Windhoek: 10° | 24° Cape Town: 14° | 20° Durban: 18° | 22° Johannesburg: 13° | 21° Dar es Salaam: 22° | 31° Lusaka: 16° | 27° Harare: 13° | 25° Currency: GBP to NAD 23.4 | EUR to NAD 19.96 | CNY to NAD 2.54 | USD to NAD 18.41 | DZD to NAD 0.14 | AOA to NAD 0.02 | BWP to NAD 1.31 | EGP to NAD 0.38 | KES to NAD 0.14 | NGN to NAD 0.01 | ZMW to NAD 0.69 | ZWL to NAD 0.04 | BRL to NAD 3.57 | RUB to NAD 0.2 | INR to NAD 0.22 | USD to DZD 134.39 | USD to AOA 848.36 | USD to BWP 13.6 | USD to EGP 47.1 | USD to KES 132.23 | USD to NGN 1474 | USD to ZAR 18.41 | USD to ZMW 26.59 | USD to ZWL 321 | Stock Exchange: JSE All Share Index 79150.84 Up +0.25% | Namibian Stock Exchange (NSX) Overall Index 1748.47 Down -0.71% | Casablanca Stock Exchange (CSE) MASI 13370.7 Down -0.04% | Egyptian Exchange (EGX) 30 Index 27205.14 Down -0.08% | Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) DCI 9141.35 Same 0 | NSX: MTC 7.75 SAME | Anirep 8.99 SAME | Capricorn Investment group 17.34 SAME | FirstRand Namibia Ltd 49 DOWN 0.50% | Letshego Holdings (Namibia) Ltd 4.1 UP 2.50% | Namibia Asset Management Ltd 0.7 SAME | Namibia Breweries Ltd 31.49 UP 0.03% | Nictus Holdings - 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Nam 2.22 SAME | Oryx Properties Ltd 12.1 UP 1.70% | Paratus Namibia Holdings 11.99 SAME | SBN Holdings 8.45 SAME | Trustco Group Holdings Ltd 0.48 SAME | B2Gold Corporation 47.34 DOWN 1.50% | Local Index closed 677.62 UP 0.12% | Overall Index closed 1534.6 DOWN 0.05% | Osino Resources Corp 19.47 DOWN 2.41% | Commodities: Gold US$ 2 335.04/OZ UP +0.13% | Copper US$ 4.73/lb DOWN -0.0034 | Zinc US$ 3 077.30/T UP 0.19% | Brent Crude Oil US$ 82.29/BBP UP +0.76% | Platinum US$ 1 027.51/OZ UP +0.77%