How to check a contractor’s references – and if you need to!
Checking references is usually the last port of call. In fact, you may not even feel the need to do so at all if you your contractor is ticking all the right boxes. However, if you’re still unsure about a potential hire, perhaps you have your suspicions that they aren’t quite telling the truth, or you can’t choose between two great candidates, it can then be a good idea to check their references. But as this can be a sensitive task, below we’ll outline in more detail how to go about this process correctly.
Let your contractor know you will be checking their references
To save room on your CV, it’s usually advised that you simply add a sentence to at the end that says ‘references upon request’. If this is the case with your contractor, you’ll need to ask your their permission to contact their previous employer and gather the contact details. What’s more, your contractor may want to get in touch with their referees first to let them know you’ll be in touch and check they’re happy to give a reference. So speaking to your potential hire before reaching out to referees is important.
Decide what you want to ask
Before you call to ask for a reference, you’ll want to put together some questions about your potential new hire. You’ll want to confirm the basics, but also find out if they were a hard worker in their previous employment. As such, your questions could include – What was the nature of their role? – How long were they employed with you? – Were they punctual? – Were they often absent? – Would you hire them again in the future? However, it’s vital to know that there are some grey areas about what an employer can and can’t say about a previous employee, so you might not always get all the answers you want. But at the very least you’ll be able to confirm their dates of employment and job role. If your contractor has done a great job they may receive a glowing reference and this can be the perfect indicator for you that they’re right for the job.
Learn to spot red flags
As previously discussed, giving a reference can be a great area and some companies are nervous about giving references as there can be legal complications. That’s why some companies as a general rule won’t confirm anything other than employment dates and job titles just to be safe. If this happens don’t rule out your contractor immediately, it may be the companies policy not to give a reference of any kind. That said, you still need to be able to spot red flags. If you are concerned their reference might actually be a friend or family member, check them out on LinkedIn and find out if they’ve given you the real contact information for their old employer. It’s also a good idea to get the name of the company and always call their landline. That way you know you’ll be put through to the correct person.