Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Job Reference Check

Reference checking is a common and familiar hiring practice. Minimally, a reference check involves a conversation—usually a phone conversation— between a potential employer and someone who knows the job applicant. A properly conducted reference check is not an informal, gossipy exchange of unsubstantiated opinions about a job applicant. Seven characteristics set reference checking apart from casual conversation and make it a valid and useful component of the hiring process.

1. Job-related. The focus of a reference checking discussion is on an applicant’s ability to perform the job.

2. Based on observation of work. The information provided by a reference must be based on experience observing or working with a job applicant.

3. Focused on specifics. The discussion must be focused on particular job-related information common to all job applicants to ensure fairness. Skillful probing and comparing of information ensures that the process produces more than a superficial evaluation.

4. Feasible and efficient. Because reference checking is focused, it can be conducted quickly. It provides a reasonable return for the small amount of time needed to do it well.

5. Assessments of the applicant. The information obtained from reference checking may be used to determine whether an applicant will be offered a job. Reference checking procedures therefore are assessments subject to employment regulations, such as the Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures, and they must conform to accepted professional measurement practice.

6. Legally defensible. It is necessary for reference checks to meet high professional standards, and reference checkers can meet these standards within the constraints of the law.

7. Part of the hiring process. The purpose of the reference check is to inform a decision about hiring. The results need to complement other assessments used in that process.

Here's a typical Reference Check Form


Applicant Name:

Date Called:

Person Conducting Reference Check:


Reference name:

Reference’s organization:

Dates of Employment:
From:
To:

Position(s) Held:

Salary History:

Reason for Leaving:



1. Please describe the type of work for which the candidate was responsible.


2. How would you describe the applicant's relationships with coworkers, subordinates (if applicable), and with superiors?


3. How is the applicant’s work disposition? Please elaborate.


4. How would you describe the quantity and quality of output generated by the former employee?


5. How would you describe his/her attendance and reliability as it relates to the position he/she had with you?


6. What were his/her strengths on the job?


7. What were his/her weaknesses on the job?


8. What is your overall assessment of the candidate?


9. Would you recommend him/her for this position? Why or why not?


10. Would you rehire this individual? Why or why not?


11. Can you recommend one or two other sources that I should seek references from for this candidate?


12. Other comments?

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