Hiring the wrong person costs your company a lot. There's onboarding. Training. Benefits. Indeed, depending on the time it takes to identify the mismatch between employer and employee, a bad fit can cost a company upwards of $800,000. But it's about more than just the money and time. Hiring the wrong job applicant can lower morale and force established employees to pick up the slack.

Pre-employment screenings for work history, education and performance can increase your confidence that you've found the right person for the job. And today, small and medium-sized businesses can efficiently use the same tools that were once available only to large companies with lot of budget to spare.

Workpop offers integrated background checks and a candidate reference feedback loop as part of our hiring platform, so we've developed a few insights about how to get the most from background and reference checks, no matter what type of recruiting technology you are using.

Ask for the Most Relevant References

When it comes to contacting references, be sure to let the candidate know that at least one reference should be a former supervisor. This gives you a clearer picture of the candidate's work ethic, productivity, and adjustment to workplace culture.

The best applicant tracking systems offer the ability for previous managers' and coworkers' contact information to be added by candidates during the pre-interview stage and references can be given directly through the platform, eliminating extra steps from your already overflowing to do list. On Workpop, over one-quarter of applicants opt to provide this information up front, without being asked for it by a hiring manager.

Beware of Legalities

Background checks involve a legal investigation into one's past actions, including identity, employment, and criminal record. The process is highly regulated and, according to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), pre-screening potential employees must be done in a way that protects the candidate from breaches of privacy, falsely reported information, and discrimination. As a hiring manager, it may be up to you to decide what kind of background check is performed. If your resources are limited, we'd suggest that you request one at a county level: most criminal cases are adjudicated here.

Seek the Truth

It's assumed that if a candidate is using a past supervisor for a reference, the supervisor is aware and will most likely provide a good review, even if he or she would prefer not to be contacted. That's why hiring managers should pay attention to not only what a reference says, but how. Do they sound excited for the employee? Do they talk with enthusiasm or hem-haw around important talking points? Also, don't be afraid to reach out to other employers who are listed on the work history but not in the reference section. These blind references can be vital to finding out the truth behind a candidate's performance and motivation.

Ask the Right Questions

When checking references, it's important to discuss job titles and responsibilities. It's too easy to embellish a resume and fact checking a job candidate tells you more about the potential employee than just their work history. Also, be sure to not just ask yes-or-no questions, but include those that are open-ended. Insightful questions include things like, "If Shawn were to come back to your company, what position would be best," "What were Shawn's biggest accomplishments?," and "What's it like working with Shawn?" Be sure to explain the role and position the candidate would fill to determine if it's the right fit.

With so many steps involved in the hiring process, you may feel like skipping the background and reference checks.

Our advice: don't.