Why You Should Always Contact an Applicant's References

Category: Primitive Social Inbound Marketing digital marketing Business Growth and Sales

Written by: Lacey Wilcox

Posted on: November 12, 2019

As a business owner, you know that one of your company’s greatest assets is the people you hire for your team. This makes your hiring process incredibly important for building a healthy, successful business. It’s not enough to have a good vibe about someone, or offer a position after only one interview. Instead, you and your human resources department will need to field dozens of applications and conduct multiple interviews to be sure you’re getting the right person for the job. It’s a time-consuming process, and it can be tempting to cut corners or make a quick decision based upon one successful interview.

This snap judgement can end up costing your business in the long run, which is why it’s worth it to do due diligence during the hiring process and contact the references listed on an applicant’s resume. 

Contacting References is Not Optional

An applicant’s reference is a valuable resource for your human resources team. This person can tell you much about what it’s actually like to work with an applicant, versus the sense you might get after conducting several interviews. Here are just some of the things you can learn from contacting an applicant’s references. 

Is This Applicant the Right Fit for Your Team/Company?

Almost every applicant you interview is eager to receive the position you have available. They’re going to put their best foot forward during this process, and understandably so. It’s your job to look past this eagerness and discern whether or not they will work well with your team and your company. A reference can tell you about the applicant’s work ethic, unique strengths, personality traits and tendencies, communication style, and more. 

Is Your Company the Right Fit for This Applicant?


A job interview is not just about deciding whether or not this applicant will work well within your company. The applicant is also trying to get a good picture of whether or not he or she wants to work with you and your team. It’s just as easy for you to want to put your best foot forward, but being realistic about what your company is like and what it will take to succeed in this role is better for all parties.

This is where it can be really nice to speak with references. You can learn firsthand the situations in which this applicant thrived, and compare it to your business. You can also get a reference’s insight as to whether or not your work would be a good fit for this potential hire. 

Is This the Right Position for this Applicant?

Building the right team to grow your business is much more than just hiring someone who is a good fit for your business (and vice versa). It’s also about ensuring that the person you’re hiring will thrive in the position you have available. This is just one more reason why it’s so critical to speak with references. You can find out firsthand the role this applicant had in a past job and determine whether or not they’ll be a good fit for the position you need filled. In taking the time to conduct thorough interviews and speak with references, you might come to the conclusion that you want to hire this person, but that they might be a better fit for another role.

Build the Right Team to Grow Your Business

Creating a successful company starts with building the right team of people. The more time you invest in the hiring process — conducting multiple interviews, involving team members in the process, and contacting references — the more likely you are to find the right people for the right positions. 

Learn more about using a team approach to grow your business with our free ebook. 

Why You Need to Take a Team Approach to Growing Your Business | Download Ebook