Reference checking is a vital and important part of the hiring decision-making process. Prior to making a job offer, reference checks are to be conducted regarding the selected applicant. Reference checking allows for the opportunity to speak with previous supervisor to discuss performance relative to the position for which the applicant is being considered. Reference checking is designed to protect hiring supervisors and NAU from potential negligent hiring and ensure a good match for the position.
It is important to complete reference checks even though you are required to request a background check. The employment section of a background check verifies dates of employment, job title, salary, and eligibility for rehire. A reference check assists you in determining an applicant’s suitability for the position.
Reference checks may be completed at one of two times during the hiring process, and Human Resources encourages your department to select the time that best fits your needs.
1. Prior to the interview: The purpose of conducting reference checks prior to the interview is to screen out similarly qualified applicants in order to establish a more manageable interview pool
2. Following the interview: The purpose of conducting reference checks following the interview is to verify and document that your top candidate(s) is in fact the best choice.
The hiring supervisor may conduct reference checks or he/she may charge the screening committee to do so. If any of the candidates are current NAU employees, the hiring supervisor may contact their Human Resources Analyst or Consultant and request to see the employee’s performance appraisals. Performance appraisals, whether they be previous or current, should not be used in lieu of contacting the applicant’s current supervisor for reference checking.
It is always important to document the name, job title, and working relationship of the person providing the reference to the candidate (i.e. supervisor, co-worker, friend). Also document the names and dates of references you were unable to contact or those that resulted in no reply or a refusal to comment.
To identify reference checking questions and factors to consider for your position, please see Factors to Consider and a Sample Reference Check Questions Form. Include the completed reference checking question sheets with notes from the discussion in the HireSmart package. Contact the Employment team with any questions.
If you are not successful in contacting the applicant’s previous employer(s), then document reason(s) (e.g. out of business) and contact another reference. This may mean you will need to ask the applicant to provide an additional name and telephone number. You may contact any individual from the applicant's previous employment. We recommend that you speak with a supervisor or someone within the chain of command, who has experience working with the applicant and can discuss their performance.