I can’t tell you how many times I had heard stories of churches that hire new staff member only to realize, later, that they didn’t find out critical information about the candidate. Why? One reason is they didn’t do the necessary referencing for the candidate. Several of the mistakes I see churches make:

  • They put too much weight on candidates who they know or who come referred from someone they know – these (candidates with who there is already some relationship) require even more diligence and objectivity
  • They don’t “really” do reference checks – meaning, they do referencing as part of the checklist to get the candidate hired instead of using it as a tool to determine if the candidate will fit or not and/or they don’t do references with people who can speak to a candidate’s professional/ministry experience and their capacity for growth – instead they talk with personal references of the candidate
  • They don’t ask the tough questions – you MUST ask for examples of how the candidate has handled conflict, dig to find out what the candidate’s weaknesses are, and ask the reference, point-blank, would this candidate be your first choice if you were making this hire?
  • They don’t do secondary reference checks – call references who are not on the candidate’s list

How important is reference checking to you? What’s something that has happened, in your own experience, with reference checking?