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One crucial step that should always be performed when it comes to hiring a new employee is the reference check. As you are no doubt already aware, past work history often has a direct bearing on future behavior. Although there are some fairly strict guidelines in terms of what you can and can't ask; this step is vital to knowing if the person you interviewed is the best fit for the position.
You may want to let the candidate know that you are going to check their references. The reaction they give can speak volumes. When you contact a reference, verify the basic information that you have been given such as job titles, employment dates and job duties performed. Make sure these match. For example, if someone lists "art director" on their resume, but their employer refers to them as a copywriter, you may well have a problem on your hands. At the very least, you will want to dig a little deeper to get to the bottom of the issue before moving forward.
Be especially aware of the tone of a former employer or manager. While there are certain things that are prohibited from being said, you can still sense if a person is hesitant to say good things about a person. If they are less than enthusiastic, you may want to keep that in mind. Also, make sure you get in touch with all of the people on the reference list so that you have a representative sample to consider.