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Guidelines for Reference Checking

Use the following checklist to help you check references:

  • Tell each applicant that no employment offer will be made until satisfactory reference checks are made.
  • Call or write to each reference given. If you are not going to check references, do not ask for them.
  • If you don't get a response to a written request to a local employer, call them. The conversation may reap more information than a letter would anyway, although you should be aware that many employers are reluctant to disclose much about a former employee because they are afraid of being sued, too.
  • If you request references in writing, include a signed release by the job applicant permitting the information you want to be given out.
  • Document all information that you receive.
  • Also document unsuccessful tries at gathering information, to protect yourself from negligent hiring claims.
  • If the former supervisor won't tell you anything, record the fact that he or she refused to give any information about why you shouldn't hire the applicant.
  • If you can't get the requested information from references, ask the job applicant for more information or to clear the way for you with the references he or she gave.
  • Don't make a job offer until you've completed your reference checking.

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