Checking References

By the time a supervisor has identified a finalist in the selection process, the supervisor is probably feeling very good about the candidate. Reference checking takes a lot of time so why not simply make an offer based on our gut feelings? Here’s why:

An applicant is not likely to tell us about any past performance or attendance problems, but 67% of employers will be forthcoming about a former employee’s problem areas.

Law mandates that employers take reasonable care to hire employees who won’t harm others. Evidence of thorough reference checking will benefit the University in the event of a negligent hire claim.

Acting on information derived from interviewing is a game of chance. Human resource hiring statistics indicate that the chances of finding a good candidate through an interview process is only (selecting on gut feelings) is only 25%.

At best, the reference check will confirm the belief that you have identified the best candidate for the job. At worst, it will reveal a need to reevaluate the candidate.

If a supervisor has two strong final candidates, reference checks may help the supervisor to make a choice.

Supervisor’s Note: The University does require that references be checked prior to offering a job. Hiring managers are encouraged to perform their own reference checking as this gives them first hand information on candidates, but if absolutely necessary, staff in the Office of Human Resources will perform this function. Human Resources staff are trained to conduct reference checks legally and have developed strategies for gaining cooperation from references. Supervisors may opt to consult with Human Resources since defamation and invasion of privacy lawsuits stemming from reference checks do occur. Information gathered through reference checks is confidential and should be communicated only to those who have a business need to know. A sample reference checking form can be found on the following page.

Providing References

If you receive a request for a reference for a current or former employee, give only objective, factual, and job related information. If you are uncomfortable because you cannot give a positive reference, please contact Human Resources. Generally the University will provide only dates of services and last position held, unless the former employee provides written authorization and a release to provide additional information.