5 Best Reference Checking Tips for Employers

A letter of reference can be very valuable when someone is trying to get another job. Employers can check these references and even dig a little deeper so that they can make a better and more confident hiring decision. However, sometimes some employers don’t even bother to check it out.

Employers do have to be careful when checking and contacting references though. They cannot talk about things like age, sex, race, disabilities and other things of this nature. Human rights decrees that these sorts of things are out of bounds, so an employer must be careful and be completely professional. Here are some tips for employers when it comes to checking the references of a candidate.

1. Be Serious About Checking References

When an employer is checking references, sometimes, it isn’t taken as seriously as it should be. They may have had an email with two sentences or perhaps spent 45 seconds on the phone. Really? That is not enough! If someone is hired based on such a blas√© approach, it could come back and bite you. If the employee leaves after 3 months, or is let go because they are just not up to standard, it is going to cost the company a fair amount of money. This would have been a total waste of time and money, so take it seriously and be thorough.

2. Seek Authorization

It is always a good idea to get the authorization of the candidate before asking for references from past employers. If a candidate refuses to give his or her consent to this request, consider this a bit of a red flag moment. They may be trying to hide something from you. Whatever the case may be, always seek authorization so that you do nothing wrong.

3. Credit Check

When a potential employer wants to do a credit check (assuming it is indeed necessary), again, they must get the permission of the candidate. There have actually been instances when a candidate turned around and sued the employer for invading their privacy rights because a credit check was performed on the candidates when no authorization was given.

4. Document Everything

An employer must make sure to document everything during the reference-checking process. This is to protect themselves, more than anything. Occasionally, there may be some sort of allegations made against the employer by the candidate. Though rare, it can happen. For example, if a candidate did not receive a position for some reason, they can make false accusations against the employer. If the employer has a paper trail, one that cannot be refuted, then the employer will be safe because they did everything by the book and the accuser will not have a leg to stand on. If you need help with establishing guidelines for the documentation, definitely speak with an employment lawyer for more professional assistance.

5. Weed Out The Fakers

Many people fake references. People are desperate for a job and will do anything to get one. They may include fake references and arrange with a friend to play along, in case of a phone call. You need to make sure that you are indeed speaking to a previous employer, not an actor. You can check them out on LinkedIn and give the organization’s landline a call. After you speak with them, connect with them on LinkedIn, thanking them for speaking with you. If you receive a message back like, “Hello, thank you for connecting with me, however, I did not speak with you,” then you know the candidate lied to you.

Common sense and professionalism can help protect yourself and also find the right candidate. Be able to spot certain red flags when you are checking references.

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