Reference Checks

HR recommends at least three telephone references be documented for the applicants selected for an interview. If the person giving the reference says the candidate would not be eligible for rehire, you will want to consider removing that candidate from further consideration.

Do not put anyone's current job in jeopardy. Only contact the references that are provided by the applicant or ask the applicant's permission to contact others not listed as references. Reference checking may begin when the recruiting period starts; however, HR recommends that the applicant's current employer not be contacted until the applicant is a finalist for the position.

The same questions should be asked for all references. Questions and answers should be recorded. Questions should not be raised during a reference check that fall under the Equal Employment Opportunity discriminatory practice areas, such as questions regarding sex, race, color, national origin, age, disability or religion.

Seek a reference from the applicant’s current or most recent employer, as well as previous employers, especially when the applicant worked in a related position. If an unsatisfactory reference is received from an employer, do not seek further references from that employer.

Should phone numbers or contact persons not be specified on the application or resume, the hiring supervisor should ask the applicant to provide the reference information.

Avoid telling applicants or the reference source(s) that reference checks are being conducted because the applicant has "been selected" for the position. Rather, indicate that the applicant is "being considered" for the position.

References should not be accepted from friends, relatives or persons who have not had the opportunity to observe job-related performance.

Written letters of reference may be attached to the paperwork, but should not substitute for telephone contacts.

A previous employer might, on occasion, have rules regarding supplying references and might provide only the position title, dates of employment, salary and eligibility for rehire. In this case, document this information.