When an applicant applies for a position at your school, you ask the applicant to provide references.
How do you manage these references? Some schools don't do anything with them. Some schools do a complete analysis. But what is the best way to manage an applicant's references?
Whatever your school does, the school needs a consistent human resources policy to manage and maintain these references and the information they provide. The policy can be differentiated by the level of employee (President, Department Chairperson, Professor, Adjunct, etc.). Also the policy should identify when during the hiring process the references are to be contacted (and this could vary depending upon the level of the position needed to be filled and by whom (hiring manager, human resources administrator, human resources manager, executive recruiter, etc.).
As you compare applicants for a position, their references should be asked the same questions. This provides a strong base of comparison among the candidates. These questions can be developed by your human resource department, a search committee, hiring manager, etc. and then given to the person checking the references.
Care must be taken to dig beyond the first level of answers a reference provides. If the question is, how well has the candidate managed challenges? An answer of “OK” doesn’t tell you very much. You need to ask for specific details as to what the challenge was, what was done and what the results were.
In addition to the people the candidate supplies from their application, various Internet searches can be used to learn more about the person's background from public sources. Searches can be easily done on a variety of sites such as Google, Facebook, LinkedIn etc. From these searches, additional information maybe gathered that can influence the hiring decision.
As with all human resource activities, care should be taken to keep the information gathered confidential as well as the source reporting this information proprietary.
Rich Gerstin is the founder of The Asheforde Group and is the head of math department at Brown Mackie College, Atlanta.
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