5 Things to Keep in Mind During Reference Checks

by A Guest Author

Performing reference checks is an important part of the hiring process for any employer, but there are some things you should keep in mind when doing so.

Here are five things to think about when performing a reference check:

  1. Establish a policy - Before you start including reference checks in your regular pre-hiring practices, you should establish a policy specific to reference checks, the same way you did for accepting applications and conducting interviews. Having a policy in place that dictates what is and what is not allowed when conducting reference checks will help your HR team stay focused and not step over any personal boundaries during the interviewing and hiring process.
  2. Ask for permission - Typical protocol is to ask someone applying for a job to provide their own references, which gives them a chance to decide who they want you to talk to. Keep this in mind, especially if you’re interviewing a candidate that was recommended by a friend, family member, or current employee - it’s still that employee’s right to decide who they want you talking to in order to get information about them.
  3. Focus on the facts - When you are talking to a reference that a candidate has provided, remember to place a stronger focus on the facts about the person in question. While getting opinions about people can be helpful, and can go a long way in determining whether the applicant will be a good fit with your company culture, keep in mind that everyone has different opinions about other people. That means you shouldn’t automatically take one candidate out of consideration simply because someone had a bad opinion about them.
  4. Record the conversation - This is always a good idea, just in case there are any questions about why a candidate was or wasn’t hired. In addition, it’s a good idea to have a recording or record of everything that happens during the pre-hire process, just in case a candidate ever comes after you in a legal sense for discrimination or some other preventable charge.
  5. Take responsibility - Talking to a candidate’s references can give you a great idea of who they are, how they work, what they can accomplish, and how they will fit in with your company. However, you have to take all of the responsibility in your ultimate hiring decision, so take your own judgment into account if you have a strong feeling one way or the other about hiring someone.

If you follow these few simple steps, you should be able to use references as an important part of the hiring process without invading a candidate’s personal space or hiring the wrong person.


Writing about hiring and employment and all things related. Take a look at Checkster for more information.

This post was written by A Guest Author

This post was written by a guest author. If you have high quality, useful information to share with students, send us an email or click Write For Us to learn more. And in case you're wondering - yes, you can promote yourself in this fancy author byline.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: