You make what feels like the perfect hire. The right experience on the resume, and engaging during the interview. Soon you get rumblings of problems with co-workers and managers are having difficulty getting the employee to focus on completing work. Eventually the employee is let go. Soon after a co-worker comes to you and says they have a friend at the ex-employee's prior place of employment and they couldn't have been rid of the person fast enough.
A company policy is put in place to get references on potential hires. HR and managers try repeatedly to get real information from prior employers. All they keep getting are employment dates, and attendance records. Nothing about the actual performance of the potential hire.
How do we get companies to give real information about prior employees?
The answer is amazingly simple when you understand why managers hold back from giving real impressions of past employees. They are terrified of being prosecuted for preventing future employment of their past employee with a poor review. Who would want to risk litigation over being helpful to another company?
Take the risk out of the equation. Ask your potential hires to sign a waiver releasing prior employers from liability. A short document stating that the candidate will not hold any company that provides a reference in pursuit of your position liable for the outcome of the hiring process. Have this on file, prior to calling on references, and offer to provide it to the person at the prior company before asking about the ex-employee's performance.
Easy solution that will get you the information you need to make the right hire.