Conducting Reference Checks for Prospective Candidate


Conducting Reference Checks for Prospective Candidate

Acing interviews does not mean candidates make the cut for designated roles in organizations yet. Integrity and compatibility of a candidate are very important character traits, a great deal of which can be learned from previous employers by making and obtaining reference checks.

What are reference checks?

A reference check is the process making checks about a job-seeking candidate by contacting his / her previous employers and obtaining thorough understanding of the candidate’s work capabilities, performance, demeanour, work handling and management within teams etc. Reference checks can be further refined and made worth their time and money by asking the right questions.

Reference checks are generally carried out by employers who, either themselves or through third-party organizations and agencies, carry out background checks about candidates. This is done by asking questions to their previous organization’s colleagues, other employees, qualifying educational institution’s / university’s faculty and professors and others who are familiar with the candidate’s work and can best answer questions that give accurate ideas about the candidate’s resume, qualifications, professionalism and other qualities and aspects. References are helpful to the employer due to the fact that they give a thorough idea about a candidate’s potential and resourcefulness.

Checking information while carrying out a reference check

A hiring manager must plan and document all candidate information meticulously before executing reference checks. All information to be determined / confirmed must be marked / listed beforehand, as listed below:

  • Performance
  • Ability to understand tasks and executing them as directed
  • Ability to be a team player
  • Behaviour and ethics
  • Personality
  • Leadership skills and managing / handling senior tasks
  • Any outstanding thing that may or may not be mentioned on the candidate’s resume.

Appropriate questions to ask while carrying out reference checks for candidates

The following questions are amongst the appropriate questions to be asked by any hiring manager while carrying out reference checks for his / her organization.

  • How and in what capacity were you involved with the applicant?
  • How long have you worked with / known the applicant?
  • What was the applicant’s role while working with / for you?
  • What was the candidate’s employment tenure / dates while working with / for you?
  • What was the salary drawn by the candidate?
  • What were the main duties and responsibilities handled by the candidate?
  • Please describe the candidate’s suitability for the mentioned position with reference to the listed job description
  • Any relevant comments regarding the applicant?

Most of the references to check and verify legitimate candidature, though professional aspects like work skills and task management, are professional in nature and can be had from professional associates from a previous organization. However, details of a personal nature like demeanour, skills, interests, etc. can be had from a close friend.

Information of a certain nature cannot be asked during a reference check. This includes questions not related to the job, amongst other things. In many cases, asking questions of the nature listed below can subject your company to discrimination claims:

  • questions about a candidate's sexuality, age, religion or related issues.
  • explicit questions about a candidate's medical history or any disabilities. Such questions can be rephrased to ask whether the candidate is able to perform his / her job normally.
  • questions about the candidate’s credit scores.
  • questions related to family / family planning.

Following are some of the steps during reference checks to ensure that potential candidates are suitable for applied jobs:

  • Make sure you confirm all information the candidate has provided.
  • Gather and confirm candidate’s past performance data and strengths / weaknesses from an ex-manager / ex-employee.

Hiring decisions become much easier and the process becomes fast-forwarded once all this and other relevant information is obtained.

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