An important part of an effective hiring process is to conduct reference checks on your top candidate, but should you pay attention to a letter of reference provided by the candidate?  When The Globe and Mail asked Clear HR Consulting about the value of letters of reference, here’s what Cissy Pau had to say:

“I will always call the reference so I can ask questions and delve more between the lines,” says Cissy Pau, principal consultant at Vancouver-based Clear HR Consulting. “I can almost ‘interview’ the reference that way,” she says, adding that she doesn’t give much weight to letters of reference on their own.

More and more, social media is being used to replace the letter of reference. Prospective employers being sent a candidate’s LinkedIn recommendations is one example of that.

If you are going to provide a letter of reference, than remember that the reference will likely still be called:

“You’d be surprised how often I have called references and the person that I’ve called doesn’t recall the employee,” [Ms. Pau] says, referring not just to references provided in letters but also those for which the candidate has submitted a phone number. “I find that just appalling. If you’re going to give someone as a reference, you should be preparing that person for a phone call in advance.”

Providing and checking references is still an important piece of the hiring process. However, a letter of reference on its own, without any follow up with the reference, is of limited value to determining the suitability of the candidate for your position.


Copyright 2012 Clear HR Consulting Inc. All rights reserved.