How to Choose Effective Employment References

July 27th, 2016   •   no comments   

Choosing effective employment references who can speak to your candidate’s performance, skills set, and their critical soft skills will help you in making the best, most informed hiring decisions.


Here are a few tips that will help you in garnering the job-related information you need:


 1. Carefully review the candidate’s application and résumé.

If your employment application asks if a particular employer may be contacted, check to see if the candidate has asked that that employer not be contacted. During the interview, ask why they are not to be contacted. If it is because it’s their current place of employment, it is understandable that their manager should not be contacted. Ask for the contact information of a trusted colleague in whom they have confided about their job search. For former employers, make sure the candidate has provided their manager’s name and current contact information.


2. If the candidate provides a list of references:

Find out how the references related to the candidate, so you can determine if they are quality references. A best practice is to obtain the name(s) of final managers at each company where the candidate has worked, as they will be able to serve as the best reference, with the most recent/final information.


3. Ask the candidate for contact information.

Employers need the background information on their candidates quickly. Therefore, to reduce the time in reaching the references, it is imperative that the candidate provide their current contact information. Needing to contact the candidate when accurate information is not provided unnecessarily extends the time of completion of the background check. With today’s social-media capabilities, it is nearly impossible for a candidate to claim that they no longer know their former managers’ whereabouts or their contact information.



Failure to provide the information the employer requests may indicate that the candidate has reason why they don’t want a reference or references to be reached, and the employer may need to ask further questions of the candidate. Additionally, such practices, which indicate that the employer is a responsible employer that conducts stringent background-checks, may serve to discourage certain individuals from applying. That chilling effect indicates the efficacy of their practices, as it allows individuals with less-than-desirable work habits to apply at your competition.

To become a RefCheck® client go to

Get up-to-the minute industry developments with our complimentary monthly newsletter. Subscribe now!


About the Author
Zuni Corkerton 2, 2015Zuni Corkerton is the Founder and President of RefCheck® Information Services, Inc., a human resources-based firm that focuses on providing stellar employers with in-depth–not generic–background-screening services. She founded the company in 1986, when as director of employee relations for a regional bank she found that hiring blind was not a sound business option. She needed solid, objective, job-related background information on the bank’s candidates. RefCheck® helps employers to perform their due diligence in the selection process in order to protect their employees, and to protect their organizations from the risks inherent in the selection process: employee theft, workplace violence, and negligent-hiring and negligent-retention allegations. Adherence to federal and state laws is of paramount importance to the company.
Please call (800-510-4010, x 12) or email Zuni ( to schedule a free, confidential analysis of your current screening practices, and to determine how RefCheck® can help you to mitigate risk, protect your bottom line, and improve hiring.

Notice: Nothing in the material provided is intended to be or should be relied upon as legal advice. Readers are strongly advised to seek legal counsel. The author is not an attorney, and the information provided is for informational purposes only. Neither the author nor RefCheck® is engaged in rendering legal advice.

© Copyright 2016 RefCheck® Information Services, Inc.

– See more at: