Checking references from job candidates is standard hiring practice in large companies, but is it worthwhile for your food truck business? The simple answer…Yes! Reference checks for your potential staff members can mean the difference between a bad hire and finding the perfect fit.

Most food truck vendors request at least one reference from candidates, though getting a reference from a current employer or supervisor can be tough. If you decide to check references, you should develop a standard list of questions to ask. This will make sure that you gather similar information from each prospective candidate.

So how do get the most out of reference checks? It’s not that hard, just follow these basic tips.

5 Tips For Conducting Effective Reference Checks

Take them seriously

It’s frightening to think of the number of people who will actually bring someone into their food truck relying on the feedback gained from a 2-minute phone conversation or 2-line email.

Conduct at least 2 verbal reference checks

There are candidates out there who look great on paper but who perform poorly during interview. But there are also candidates who perform very well during interview but once they are on the job it’s a different story altogether.

Plan your questions

You need to think back to the core skills (the job description) as well as the core competencies and key success metrics that you had created for the job.

Take detailed notes

It’s always important to take notes during your calls with past employers. You never know when you might need to refer back to some of the comments.

Beware of fake references

Over the years as an engineering recruiter I have personally caught candidates out who gave me the names of previous “managers” who in fact turned out to be either friends or colleagues.

Reference checks need to focus strictly on an applicant’s qualifications for your open position. Don’t ask a reference to answer background questions regarding:

  • Race or national origin
  • Sex or physical characteristics
  • Medical conditions or disability
  • Marital status, pregnancies or family size

A big mistake in hiring great food truck employees typically happens after the hiring decision has been made: skipping reference checks. Not taking the time to check facts and references is risky.

RELATED: Writing Food Truck Help Wanted Ads That Bring In Great Candidates

Why you should never skip reference checks:

  • Candidates lie. False claims in resumes and interviews occur more than you might think.
  • It’s harder to make a change after they are employed. I’ve seen some food truck owners struggle with finding out a truth after the hire.
  • The information you learn could lead to further questions. These additional details could help with setting expectations and what might need work on.
  • Protection from possible dangers. Knowing the most you can about a candidate protects your customers, you, and other employees from someone who can damage your mobile food business.

It’s all too common for employers to regard references as an administrative task. It’s not uncommon to seek out only the positive answers when reference checks are done and sometimes to even disregard potential red flags. This can be very dangerous and it’s important to regard reference checks as an essential function during the interview process.

Remember that reference checks should not be conducted too early in the interview process because they can be very time consuming. The right reference checks can add powerful insight into confirming your decision.

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The Bottom Line

Treating reference checks as an important part of your hiring process is the ultimate path to conducting successful, thorough reference checks. Skipping them may seem like it won’t make a huge impact, but a lot of money can be lost on a new employee that isn’t properly vetted.

Do you conduct reference checks on your prospective food truck employees? What tips do you have for vendors who don’t? Share your thoughts in the comment section below or on social media. Facebook | Twitter