As a hiring manager, you understand that checking references is just another part of the job. However, you might not always know how to interpret the information you’re given from previous employers. While a glowing review is easy to comprehend, a neutral or negative reference check can be far more ambiguous.

Here are some tips on evaluating neutral reference checks so you can choose the best candidate for the job:

Understand HR Policies

If you’re interviewing someone for a position, you need to understand other companies’ HR policies with regard to giving employee references. These days, many human resources departments are only willing to provide titles and dates of employment; in other words, they won’t offer details on a worker’s skills, successes or failures. If a company has this policy, a neutral reference on a candidate might not be cause for concern. On the other hand, if you know the company usually provides detailed references, a neutral comment on an employee could be a sign the employer doesn’t want to provide negative feedback so they decided to say nothing.

Consider the Source

A neutral reference can also be good or bad depending on the specific source. For example, a dispassionate comment from the company CEO isn’t necessarily a bad sign; after all, most lower and mid-level employees have little cause to interact with the big boss. However, if you get neutral feedback from a worker’s direct supervisor, that might be a sign they don’t want to badmouth a worker but aren’t willing to endorse him, either.

Ask Telling Questions

Getting a lot of neutral responses of late? The problem might be you’re asking the wrong questions. If you want to spur a manager to provide real details on a potential hire, ask leading questions they won’t be able to resist answering. For example, you might ask, “Would you have considered this person for a managerial role?” or “What type of job would they be most and least suited for?” When in doubt, probe beneath the surface and avoid ‘yes or no’ questions. 

Let Bolder Staffing, Inc. and Bolder Professional Placements Be Your Staffing Partner 

A leader in recruitment services throughout Broomfield and beyond, Bolder Staffing, Inc. and Bolder Professional Placements helps companies find the best employees for all their open positions. Whether you need help screening workers, conducting interviews or deciphering feedback from previous employers, turn to us for assistance. For more information about what we can do, call today or contact our staffing pros online.