Best Practices for Checking References in Your Eye Care Practice

By Practice Growth March 30, 2022

Effective recruitment and onboarding processes are more complex than meets the eye. While interviews may seem like the meatiest part of the process as employers begin to get an idea of a candidate’s background and personality beyond what’s flatly listed on resumes, reference checking is vital, too. All too often, however, reference checks are haphazardly performed and viewed as merely crossing t’s and dotting i’s before making a job offer. The savviest eye care practice managers know this to be untrue.

Reference Check Questions that Work!|Reference Check Questions that Work!Reference checks provide an opportunity for employers to gain an outside view of a candidate’s work performance and even work ethic. While this view isn’t always entirely objective, it is likely less biased than that of the potential employee, who has the goal of landing a position in your eye care practice. Checking references provides an opportunity to better gauge if a potential employee can perform to the standards of your practice. These checks can also reveal any strengths and weaknesses a candidate possesses, so you can better support a candidate if hired. Here are some tips to gain the richest information from reference checking.

Identify What You Want to Know

If more than one person participated in the interview process, consult with them about what questions or concerns they have about the candidate. Perhaps there is some concern about the reasons for leaving a past position or skill development to your practice’s standards. In thinking about what things you want to discover, bear in mind that reference checks are intended to go beyond verifying what was provided on the candidate’s resume. It is also helpful to consider what information each supplied reference can best provide. Past employers, for instance, can speak to things like strategic orientation or dependability. Subordinates can shed light on a candidate’s leadership skills. Family or friends are able to provide context on what drives a potential hire.

Describe the Job

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Describing the expectations and demands of the job for which you are hiring is often overlooked in performing reference checks. This is an opportunity to highlight the challenges the candidate is likely to face if hired. Let the individual providing the reference reflect on how the candidate has responded to similar challenges in the past. Another approach to this is to describe the qualities necessary to succeed in your practice and ask how the reference provider feels the candidate measures in these qualities. It is also advisable when gaining a reference from another worksite to ask for a similar description of the expectations and demands of past employment.

Don’t Overlook Emotional Intelligence

Learning about a potential hire’s capabilities rooted in social and emotional intelligence along with soft skills is important. Qualities that indicate high levels of emotional intelligence include self-awareness, self-regulation, social skills, empathy, and motivation. Understanding more about these qualities in a candidate helps to judge if she is a good cultural fit for your eye care practice. Asking open-ended questions of reference providers about the emotional intelligence of your potential hire is also likely to yield more detailed information, which helps in making the final call on whether to extend a job offer.

Eyecare Business - Corporate Optometry Trend TrackerBear in mind that some employers have policies regarding what and how much information can be provided in a reference check. While no federal regulation defines what employers can reveal about a past employee, there are some potential pitfalls that may have shaped company policy. Some states do not have an immunity statute that protects employers from potential lawsuits for providing misinformation provided the information was provided in good faith. Even in areas with immunity statutes, some employers insist on erring on the side of caution. In the event you are stonewalled in checking provided references, reach out to informally speak with any contacts you possess who know the candidate and can answer questions you may have, predict performance within your practice, and provide insight on emotional intelligence.

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