Kamadana Pradeep
Hr Professional
Hr Manager

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I just wanted to know about how the employee reference checks and background checks at the time of recruitment are done. Are there any guidelines and specific systems to do this? Can anyone help me by sending some formats on this and please tell me how far the information received from such references and background checks is reliable and trustworthy? Any benchmarks?

From India, Hyderabad
Reference Check Process Sample Form

Position ________________________________________

Candidate Name__________________________________

Reference Name___________________________________ Date______

1 Contact the candidate and ask if he/she is still interested in the position. If yes inform the candidate that reference checks will begin. Seek any resume clarifications (i.e. date, locations, etc.) and seek additional information from the candidate (i.e. reference names, phone numbers, etc.). This is not an interview situation, but merely information sharing.

2. Contact reference: Hello. My name is ________ from (department). Your name was given to us as a reference for candidate name for application for the vacant position of ____________________. Is this a good time, or can I call back during a better time?

*list key responsibilities of position,

*number of people in the department,

*number of staff/students at the University,

*describe characteristics expected of the candidate.

3. How do you know this candidate? Professional or Personal reference?

4. Can you tell me in measurable terms the biggest impact this person made on the organization?

5. What are the candidates strengths related to this position? (customer service/communication skills/ability to communicate with variety of individuals/conflict resolution)

6. Tell us about the candidate’s strengths:

*Chief negotiator

*conflict resolution

*written verbal

*contract administration (versus enforcement)

7. If not covered in 6, what are the candidate’s weaknesses? If this candidate was hired, where could OU be of most help assuring their success on the job?

8. What did this candidate do above and beyond the basic needs of the job?

9. Discuss the candidate on:

a. Work ethic: outstanding above avg. acceptable marginal unacceptable

Can you give an example to support that ranking?

b. Building and maintaining professional/working relationships; Effective Communicator

outstanding above avg. acceptable marginal unacceptable

Can you give an example to support that ranking (stressing proven communication abilities)?

c. Dependability: outstanding above avg. acceptable marginal unacceptable

Can you give an example to support that ranking?

d. Job enthusiasm: outstanding above avg. acceptable marginal unacceptable

Can you give and example to support that ranking?

e. Productivity: outstanding above avg. acceptable marginal unacceptable

Can you give an example to support that ranking?

f. Quality of Work: outstanding above avg. acceptable marginal unacceptable

Can you give an example to support that ranking?

10. Is there anything else you can share with us about this candidate that would assist us in making a proper hiring decision?

11. Would you hire or re-hire this person? Why or why not?

12. Is there someone else we should contact regarding this candidate?

_____________________________ _____________________

Reference Checker Date


Why Conduct Reference Checks

One of the most valuable human resource management tools for gathering information on

past performance of applicants is reference checking. Past performance is one of the

strongest predictors of future performance.

Reference checks should be made on all new employees: permanent, temporary,

classified, nonclassified, etc. They serve as an important part of the selection process. An

investment in reference checking can reduce costs and increase productivity, by helping to

ensure successful hires, screening for a good agency ‘fit,’ and avoiding probation failures.

It can also serve as a means of preventing violence in the workplace, preventing

discrimination or harassment, and promoting a safe work environment for current and

future employees. Conducting a thorough reference check can avoid charges of ‘negligent


For Your Protection

Idaho State Law protects “an employer who in good faith provides information about the

job performance, professional conduct, or evaluation of a former or current employee to a

prospective employer of that employee, at the request of the prospective employer of that

employee, or at the request of the current or former employee, may not be held civilly

liable for the disclosure or the consequences of providing the information.” 44-201 Labor

Employer duties, Idaho Code.

Generally, as long as employers give true and correct information, both positive and

negative, they are protected by this ‘immunity’ law.

To minimize liability:

· The reference checking processes should be designated so only staff trained in

conducting reference checks are actually conducting them;

· Tailor the reference or background check to the job;

· Have applicants sign a written release of information for employment purposes;

· Check as many employment and personal references as possible before making an

offer of employment;

· Verify academic degrees, professional certifications or licenses, etc.;

· Be consistent, ask the same questions of each reference;

· Always ask if the employee is eligible for rehire; and

· Maintain documentation, including those that produce no information.

How to Conduct a Reference Check

Reference checks should be conducted in compliance with all federal and state laws and

regulations including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Title VII of the Civil Rights

Act, the Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures, and the Fair Credit

Reporting Act, as applicable. The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits asking non-jobrelated

information from previous employers or other sources. Examples of questions to

avoid include those regarding marital status, religion, age, race, health-related issues, child

care, transportation, worker compensation claims, and other non-job related questions.

For example, if the job does not entail supervision, do not ask about supervisory skills.

However, questions can and should be designed to uncover conduct problems such as

‘Has the person ever been disciplined or investigated for serious misconduct?’

If the applicant indicates that the current supervisor should not be contacted, ask about

contacting the current supervisor contingent on a job offer. If the applicant still declines

they should be told that the lack of the current supervisor’s reference may affect the hiring


Reference checks may be completed by telephone, in person, by mail, internet or fax. A

personal phone call is usually best. The most useful references normally come from

former supervisors; however other good sources can include coworkers, clients, HR

departments, executives, and listed references.

Review the duties of the vacant position and review the application materials. Make a list

of facts or qualifications to verify and a list of questions to ask. Areas of possible inquiry

could include:

· Sociability – how well does the applicant get along with and relate to other people?

· Work habits and ability - how well does the applicant know the work and perform on

the job? Assess technical/functional ability and attitude on the job.

· Personal character – is the person trustworthy, honest and dependable?

When conducting reference checks be friendly and appeal to human nature. Introduce

yourself; indicate you have written consent for the reference check or that the applicant

listed that person as a reference. Describe the job, start with basic verification questions

and then transition into more specific performance based questions. Ask follow up or

clarification questions if something isn’t clear. Listen to the responses, is there hesitation

or vagueness? Ask the reference at the end of the conversation if they can think of or

recommend anyone else with whom you should speak. If information is not forthcoming

you might ask questions such as “How would you rate this employee on a scale of 1 to


Utilizing the information

1. Don’t accept all the information at face value; look at the context in which it was given.

Personality conflicts and different work cultures may unfairly influence responses.

2. It is best to use the information from a combination of different methods to make an

overall assessment; e.g., application materials, interviews, and reference checks.

3. If you are in doubt about a candidate’s qualifications be sure to check additional

references. In some instances, Division of Human Resource staff may be able to assist.


All Information obtained from the reference and background check process should be used

only as part of the employment process and kept strictly confidential with restricted staff

access to the information. The HR department should consider maintaining a log that

includes the position applied for, applicant name, and date of the background check.

Giving References

Define who in your agency is authorized to give references. It is a good idea to have a

written consent from the employee on file.

Do's and Don’ts of Reference Checks



When you contact an applicant's personal references, remember that the applicant selected them for the positive impression he or she thought they would give. Nonetheless, take the task seriously. References sometimes reveal critical information about applicants.

You should verify the nature of the relationship between the applicant and personal reference and the length of time they have known each other. You may be able to increase the objectivity of the information you receive from the referee if you stress the kinds of responsibilities that the applicant will have if selected for the position.


The most common reference-checking mistake is to miss an opportunity to get critical information from the applicant. Try to avoid the mistakes below.

Asking leading questions. When you are checking references, let the referee provide the information. Instead of "Tom Jones told us that you and he have been friends for 10 years. Is that right?," you might want to ask, "How long have you and Tom Jones known each other?"

Asking questions that can be answered by a simple yes or no. You need to phrase the questions so that the referee is required to think about their responses and to answer in their own words.

Asking questions which are too general. Some information you need is very specific relative to the nature of the position and the risks you have identified.

Specific Questions to Ask

After verifying the factual information from the application (past activities, dates of paid or unpaid positions, position title, duties, etc.) there are some direct questions you should ask if the position involves working with children, handling large sums of money, or requires operating motor vehicles.

Working with Children

How would you describe his/her personal characteristics?

Probe for immaturity, shyness, introversion, non-assertiveness or indecision.

How would you say he/she relates with children?

Probe whether or not he/she relinquishes adult role and responsibility and is desperate to be liked, tends to become more like the child, places a premium on one-to-one activities rather than group activities.

Have you ever seen him/her discipline a child? If so, please describe what you saw him/her do?

The manner in which individuals try to control children's behavior can reveal their true character. Disciplinary techniques used should not be violent or emotionally degrading. They should deal with the issues involved, be constructive, and appropriate for the age of the child being disciplined.

I'd be interested in knowing if you think there may be any problems or conditions that would interfere with the applicant's ability to care for children or in any way endanger the children under the applicant's care.

While the reason for this question is obvious, the kinds of information you may receive are not. Listen not only to the words, but also to how the words are said-is there hesitancy/Equivocation?

Handling Money

[name of person] has applied for a position that requires handling large sums of money. Are you aware of any problems she/he may have that would cause you concern about entrusting her/him with this responsibility?

Listen for general concern about honesty and dependability. Ask for specific examples of problems so that you eliminate rumors and gossip.

Are you aware of any financial difficulties, drug misuse or history of criminal conduct?

Follow-up this question with a specific focus on known risk factors.

Motor Vehicle Operation

Have you ever ridden in a vehicle while she/he was driving? If you have, how would you characterise his/her driving?

Warning signs you should listen for include aggressive driving, pushing the speed limit, recklessness.

Are you aware of any incidence in which she/he operated a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs?

Listen for equivocation ("Well he really wasn't under the influence, I mean he had only had a couple of beers"); evasiveness ("No, I don't really know for a fact, that he has ever driven after drinking."); justifications ("Well, hasn't everyone at one time or another.")

From India, Mumbai
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