How Will Your Potential Candidates REALLY Perform?

February 17, 2015
How Will Your Potential Candidates REALLY Perform?

Research on how many job applicants make false claims in their CVs varies from a low 4 to a high 6 in 10. Most of these false claims are about the candidate’s education, career history and duties. Irrespective of the stats, it is safe to say that CVs will only tell you what the candidate wants you to know, not what you need to know. Over the years I have become quite blasé with using CVs as a hiring tool. The best they will tell you is how good a writer the candidate (or somebody else) is!

I have written many HR Tips articles about the importance of thoroughly checking prospective employee’s backgrounds with past employers and agencies. Here’s a previous Tips article on reference faking that will make your hair curl

Despite my crusade to get hiring managers too solidly check future employees’ backgrounds, I still see poor diligence in this process. As New Zealanders we are so trusting and take people at their word. Whilst this trait is to be applauded, it does not serve us well when in the hiring process.

For most jobs, there are four core areas you need to cover when talking to referees. These are:

How well will they service your customers?
A recent American Express survey reports that customers will spend 66{e984e047a0cf0683b5e0a609dc9adff1ef3040909f42c61fefd344cb6b0a14a5} more for excellent service. On top of this, customers who receive good service will tell 15 friends. Those who get bad service will tell 25 friends.

How much work do they really do?
Employees admit to wasting 3 hours per day! So if you are paying around $17 an hour you are spending $12,960 a year for nothing.

Can they actually do what they say they can do?
As mentioned in our opener, CVs are full of embellishments and lies. 44{e984e047a0cf0683b5e0a609dc9adff1ef3040909f42c61fefd344cb6b0a14a5} lie about work history. 41{e984e047a0cf0683b5e0a609dc9adff1ef3040909f42c61fefd344cb6b0a14a5} lie about their education and 23{e984e047a0cf0683b5e0a609dc9adff1ef3040909f42c61fefd344cb6b0a14a5} falsified licences and credentials. Can you really trust what you are reading?

How effectively can they communicate?
It’s estimated that about 66{e984e047a0cf0683b5e0a609dc9adff1ef3040909f42c61fefd344cb6b0a14a5} of salaried positions require some form of written communication. You better make sure your candidate has the written and verbal skills required for the job. This is why a General Abilities test is the biggest predictor of future job performance (pay attention to this score in the Prevue and PeopleCLUES employee profiles).

There is a big difference between a confirmation telephone call and a sound reference check. The former is open to emotional judgement, accepting what you want to hear and disregarding warning bells. The latter has a structured approach that tests out the candidate’s past performance in respect to the competencies required for your job (and those outlined above). A structured approach allows you to measure apples with apples.

A structured approach begins with a carefully designed form that ensures you get important answers to key job requirements. Remember past behaviour reflects future behaviour. It also helps you to collect information in a standardised manner that enables you to then reference back across all referees when your checking is completed.

As an HR Tips Letter subscriber, I’d like to gift you a sample of a reference checker. Just email

Rob McKay MA(Hons) is Director of AssessAdvantage –