You're about to make a job offer to a candidate. Should you call his or her references?
Some people say yes, others say no. I'm in the latter category.
First, unless the candidate is a complete moron, they're not going to give you names of people who provide a negative reference. And most previous employers are understandably nervous about providing any information on a former employee.
Some of our clients like to verify the candidates dates of employment or compensation. Fine - ask the candidate for a copy of their most recent W-2 form or paycheck stub. Other than that, calling references is a lot of time for a very little reward.
Following standard procedures, you can require a background check, drug testing or even skills testing to verify information and make sure the candidate is you he/she says they are.
Here's an article in the South Jersey Courier Post that talks about the reference controversy. However, I seriously disagree with parts of the article that suggest visiting a candidates social networking sites as a pre-hire investigation. As I wrote back in May, using google and social networking sites to evaluate potential candidates is a really bad idea.
What does calling references accomplish?