Reference Checks

It is an important safeguard to contact referees to confirm the information given at an interview or written in an application.


You must seek an applicant's approval before contacting their referees

Try to confirm the authenticity of the referee.  Make contact by land line rather than by mobile phone whenever possible

Some interviewees, especially those new to the workforce, might only be able to provide personal referees.  While a personal referee is most likely to give a positive response to your questions you may still consider it worthwhile contacting them to explore further information about the applicant.

Some organisations have a 'no reference' policy but usually provide ex-employees with a certificate of employment noting the length of time they have been employed.

Conducting reference checks can be time consuming, especially when there are so many other aspects of consider when recruiting people. However, it is an important safeguard and may well be a requirement if you are working with a Host Provider.

You may be able to delegate the task to someone in your personal network or it may be something that the Host Provider can help you with.

Some recruitment agencies can be engaged to complete just this one step of the recruitment process for you.

Guidelines for a Reference Check

  • Outline the role the person has applied for and ask generally whether the referee believes that the applicant will be suitable
  • If the referee is a previous employer check how long the applicant has worked for them and why the person is no longer working for them
  • Check the actual position they held and the duties they performed
  • Ask about strengths and weaknesses
  • Ask about reliability, trustworthiness, manner of relating to others
  • Listen to what the referee is not saying and where they hesitate.  For example, "I felt you hesitated there, is this something you could expand on?"
  • Paraphrase. For example, "I heard you say this about the person, is that right?"
  • Try to use probing questions rather than questions that can be answered with yes or no
  • Avoid inappropriate questions that have no relevance to the position or that are discriminatory or sexual in nature
  • Ask if the referee would employ or re-employ the applicant.

Use this Reference Check Form to help prepare for interviews with referees.

Who can help?

Reference checks are an important part of the recruitment process but can be time consuming.

Consider asking people in your circle or network to contact referees. 

Some recruitment agencies can be engaged to complete just this one step of the recruitment process for you. Brisbane based agencies that offer a range of recruitment services include Stenhouse Recruitment and You Select Recruitment. 

Read more about other stages of the Recruitment Process. 

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