How to Evaluate Employee Referrals

Emily Heaslip, content writer at Vervoe

It’s easy to see why recruiters love employee referrals. Referral candidates take less time to hire, cost less to recruit, and tend to stay with an organization longer than traditional candidates.

However, these advantages can cause some recruiters to ignore the standard candidate vetting process. As a result, referrals may be hired on the strength of their employee recommendation, rather than on their merit. This is how bad hires can happen despite best intentions.

Recruiters wishing to avoid potential bad referral hires should follow these steps to vet an employee referral. Here’s how to make sure the candidate is the best hire for the job.

Ask candidates to perform a skills test
One way to ensure your referral has what it takes to do the job? Customize a skills test with real-world tasks suited to the open position. This gives you a quick way to make sure the candidate has what it takes to do the job requirements. From Talent Trials to personality quizzes, job simulations and work samples, there are plenty of ways to evaluate whether the referral candidate is right for you. Asking every candidate to perform the same tasks allows you to identify the right fit for your position. Skills tests make hiring about merit, not about background.

Add their CV to the larger pile
An AI tool can help you remove any biases from the hiring process, ensuring the best candidates rise to the top. Instead of screening people out, and abandoning traditional candidates in favor of a referral, add the referral candidate into your hiring funnel.

Asking every candidate to perform a skills test should be the first step in any hiring process. Then, use a machine learning algorithm to analyze the results of the test. An AI tool that ranks candidates automatically on how they performed on the test will give you an unbiased result of who should continue on to the next phase. Your referral candidate will be evaluated fairly along with the rest of the traditional candidates based on what they can do, not who they know.

Include a group interview step
A group interview is a great way to see how your referral candidate performs in a larger team context. Invite a number of candidates to solve a business case. This gives you the opportunity to see each candidate’s teamwork, leadership, and performance under pressure. It also gives you and the hiring team a way to validate the results of your skills test while seeing how your candidates work with others.

Open referrals to non-employees
Referrals don’t have to come just from your existing employees. If you’re seeking to expand your diversity, looking outside your current roster can help bring in fresh ideas and new talent. Broaden your referral program so that spouses/partners, former employees, friends, and even the general public can contribute to your referral candidate pool. Even your rejected candidates can be good sources for recommending talent. Connect your referral program with your candidate sourcing and recruitment marketing efforts to start seeing some benefits of looking outside your current team.

Check their references
It may be old-fashioned, but reference checking is the most straightforward way to get a 360-degree evaluation of a reference. Follow up to get a second or third opinion from the candidate’s references. Here are some questions you might want to ask a candidate’s references:

  • How did you and the candidate work together collaboratively?
  • How was their working relationship with the larger team?
  • How did the candidate deal with conflicting opinions with another team member?
  • What are some key motivators that keep the candidate engaged?

The bottom line is, candidate referrals are great. But they aren’t infallible. Do your due diligence on every candidate to make sure they are set up to succeed at your company.

Categories: Recruitment

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