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  • How to Hire Your First Employees
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    How to Check References

    Resumes provide facts about job history, skills, and experience. They allow you to learn about a candidate’s personal goals, attitudes, and cultural fit from an interview. Although a complete picture can’t be formed until you check references.

    Don’t pay too much attention to personal references listed on the résumé. These people will almost always give glowing reviews. Instead, talk to former employers—preferably the managers who directly supervised the applicant. You’re looking to confirm many of the credentials and experiences they’ve mentioned You want to uncover the less tangible aspects of the applicant’s performance and work style. Ask about how well they collaborated with others, if they were punctual and hard working. You will need to ask the candidate for names and contact numbers and get their permission to run these checks.

    Start your reference interview with straightforward questions to establish rapport and a relaxed environment. These questions can focus on verifying their employment history, their title and their role. Then ask open-ended questions in an effort to elicit in-depth, thoughtful answers. Keep your queries related to the job and refrain from asking about personal habits. Some examples of questions include:

    What is your evaluation of their overall performance?

    • Did they advance in your company or remain at the same level?
    • What are their three main strengths?
    • How did they work with other employees and in a team environment?
    • Did they take initiative to go beyond their primary responsibilities?
    • Is there anything else I should take into consideration before hiring them?

    Depending on the responsibilities of your job, you may want to go a little further and run a background check In fact, most employers run one. According to a recent survey, 96 percent of organizations run an employment background screening. Laws on what you can and cannot check vary by state, so it’s best to consult with your attorney before performing a criminal record search or requesting a credit report. At the very least, you must get the applicant’s permission in writing.

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    If you decide that a thorough background check is warranted, consider outsourcing to a background checking company. Background check specialists can help find accurate and complete information. They can also navigate federal and state regulations. This will include keeping your company in compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the American With Disabilities Act (ADA). The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse offers a Background Check Guide for the small business owner.