What to Ask Equine Job Applicants' References

Calling references is a time-consuming, but important, part of the hiring process.
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Calling references is a time-consuming, but important, part of the hiring process.
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Call the applicant's references and try to determine if the person's abilities match the job you have open.

Spring and summer are the busiest seasons at a horse farm or boarding facility and often are when you are hiring additional employees. How can you make sure you are hiring the right employees? This series on finding the right employee should help.

Hiring the wrong employee can be a costly mistake. According to a 2013 CareerBuilder survey, 27% of employers reported that one bad hire cost their company $50,000.

One way to lessen your chances of making a bad hire is to request references from top candidates. Checking in with references gives you an opportunity to ask questions about the job applicant’s work ethic, ability to work with others and general skills.

Asking situational questions can provide insight into how the individual handles a variety of interactions with clients, said Mary K. Thomas, president of Equistaff, a nationwide recruiting and staffing agency based in Ocala, Florida.

“Pose a situation that happened at your barn and ask the reference how they think the person has responded in similar situations,” she said.

This type of question is as powerful for revealing unexpected strengths and weaknesses. “You might find out the person is good at handling stallions,” said Thomas.

This day and age people are hesitant to answer questions about why someone left a position for legal reasons. However, asking a reference if they would rehire the individual is another way to shed light on the departure. The reference might be hesitant to expand on the exact reasons, but whether or not they would rehire a person provides insight, she said.f

Hiring for stables is different than many other industries in that housing is often a part of the employment package.

“Ask a former employer how the employee left the apartment and if they took care of it while they were there,” she said.

Asking a job applicant about family and pets is off-limits during an interview. However, it might be an appropriate conversation with a reference.

“You can’t ask an employee about their personal life, but you can ask a reference about the interactions of family members and behavior of pets around horses and clients,” she said.

And yes, you can call someone who is not a reference who has experience with that applicant. You are not limited to just the people put on the resume. But you should call those references. That conversation often will make the difference in whether you hire or pass on a specific potential employee.

Calling references can be time consuming. Save it for the candidates you think will be the best fit for your position and make the time to talk, it could save you time and money.