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What Can References Tell You About a Candidate?

September 29th, 2017

Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson. Celebrity chef Robert Irvine. Former Notre Dame head coach George O’Leary. What do all these names have in common? They lied on their resumes, from falsifying degrees to grossly exaggerating accomplishments.

And they’re not alone. In fact, according to Career Builder, over half of employers – 56 percent – have experience with candidates lying on their resumes. Some areas most lied about include:

  • Skill sets
  • Responsibilities
  • Dates of employment
  • Degrees

While conducting a reference check doesn’t guarantee you’ll uncover every candidate lie, they can go a long way in finding out about embellishments and red flags that would make you think twice about hiring a candidate.

As one of Columbia, South Carolina’s top picks for staffing agencies, here are a few other things True Group knows references can tell you about a candidate:

Employment history.

If a candidate lies about their job title or dates of employment, you’re left to wonder what else they’re not telling the truth about. That’s why it’s important to verify an employee’s titles, responsibilities and dates of employment with every reference you speak with.

Technical and soft skills.

It’s important you hire someone with the right skills and abilities to do the job. Beyond that, though, it’s also important to ask about soft skills, too. You need people who work well on teams and can communicate effectively with others. When you check references, you can ask questions that pertain to these soft skills – and others – to get a sense of what kind of team member you’re potentially getting.


A negative attitude is toxic on any team. That’s why when you’re checking references, you should ask about attitude. Positivity can go a long way toward boosting morale and productivity. In addition to having a positive attitude, you want those you hire to be professional when it comes to how they treat others and how they handle stress.


You want to hire people who are constantly moving forward in their careers, not stagnant. Ask about situations where a candidate went above and beyond, or contributed positively in some other way. Another good question to ask that can provide plenty of insight is whether the reference giver would hire back the candidate if they had the chance.

At the very least, conducting reference checks verifies that a candidate is who they say they are. Even more, they can help you uncover vital details that can lead to a better hiring decision.

Don’t have the time or resources to conduct thorough reference checks?

Outsource the process to True Group. As one of Columbia, South Carolina’s top picks for staffing agencies, we can help you with every aspect of your candidate search, start to finish. Contact us today to get started.

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