Doing Reference Checks After Delivering the Job Offer


An after-job reference check is often misconstrued to be a background check aimed at detecting of past criminal records, drug tests or other personal data verification. It is also not a form of verification of employment such as confirmations of employment dates, salary, past job titles or re-hiring eligibility. A reference check is aimed at checking the opinion of previous colleagues regarding the performance of the prospective job seeker.

Why should an after-job reference check be conducted?
One of the strongest indicators and predictors of future performance is by checking on past performance. By conducting a reference check then you are likely to gather balanced and accurate information, both on a positive and negative perspective, from the past employers of the job candidate. This will in the long run help you to avoid hiring mistakes by hiring people who are likely to perform well.

What are some of the challenges faced when conducting such checks?
Some of the notable challenges involved in this undertaking include there not being enough references that are considered quality, difficulty in reaching these references, difficulty in obtaining valid data, time and cost constraints and the fact that most people do not find this kind of undertaking a fun pursuit.

Key characteristics of a good source for references
Conducting of after job reference checks should be meticulous process that entails speaking with individuals that have been in positions where they could easily observe the performance of the prospective job candidate. This included same level colleagues or supervisors. Family members or friends should however not be included in the references. To aid you in this undertaking, certain parameters must be considered such as:
Other important parameters to consider are:

  • The duration of the relationship
  • The freshness or how recent the relationship is
  • The nature of the relationship
  • The closeness of the relationship

Are there any legal risks involved when providing such information?

The legal challenges that may arise from this undertaking usually arise from poor practices like the discussion of topics that are prohibited. Another scenario is whereby you may provide positive information regarding a particular candidate and they end up being employed or hired. If this candidate ends up performing poorly or contrary to the positive billing, then you may end up getting sued for providing or disclosing incomplete information.

To help you in reducing the imminent legal risks and enhance your chances of gathering information that is of better quality, some of the best practices to adhere to include:

  • Having a release of liabilities as well as a written consent form signed by each candidate
  • Asking similar or exact questions to all the reference sources
  • Ensuring that all the questions asked are linked to the job requirements as well as the conduct or performance of the candidate in previous jobs
  • Inclusion of open ended questions that pertain the accomplishments, strengths and possible areas of improvement of the candidate

Some of the questions that are to be avoided or prohibited include those pertaining to age, marital status, health problems or disabilities, sexual orientation, home life stability and religion related issues.


About The Author

Yves Lermusi (aka Lermusiaux) is CEO & co-founder of Checkster. Mr. Lermusi is a well known public speaker and a Career and Talent industry commentator. He is often quoted in the leading business media worldwide, including Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Business Week, and Time Magazine. His articles and commentary are published regularly in online publications and business magazines. Mr. Lermusi was named one of the “100 Most Influential People in the Recruiting Industry” and his blog has been recognized as the best third party blog.