Employment reference checks are considered as one of the best tools to inquire about a prospective employee. Reference checking has always been an important factor for all the companies who want to make the informed decision of hiring the right employee.
These days' applicants are asked to provide employment references, such as previous employers or coworkers, whom employers can contact to learn more about the candidate. Employment reference checks are used to verify truthfulness and accuracy of information applicants provide about themselves and to reveal negative job-related background information hidden by the applicants.
Unfortunately, previous employers are increasingly reluctant to provide references or background check information for fear of being sued by previous employees for defamation. If former employers provide potential employers with unsubstantiated information that damages applicants' chances of being hired, applicants can (and do) sue for defamation. As a result, 54 percent of employers will not provide information about previous employees.
This situation is very discouraging for employers as it creates a hindrance in their fair selection process and in determining the true value of an employee. But as we know that there is always a way to handle things with care to get optimum results without a problem. So by remembering the basic goals and using best practices in employment reference checks cannot only save time but also relieve all the fears of defamation.
Two Essential Goals for Employment Reference Checks:
- To discourage applicants to hide something. An applicant with a serious criminal conviction is less likely to apply in the organizations that announce pre-employment background and referencing.
- To encourage applicants to be very honest in their applications and interviews. Since applicants are told there is a background check, they have a motivation to reveal information about themselves they feel may be uncovered with a probable reference check.
Best Practices When Checking Employment References:
Employers have a number of options with regard to checking the references of a prospective employee. These can change from having the human resources person or the hiring manager call the former supervisor directly to check the reference, to third party to collect background information on a candidate, including checking references, and then reporting back to prospective employer.
If an employer decides for employment reference checks than they should be looking into the following guidelines:
- Include a statement on the application for employment directly above the applicant's signature line stating that all information on the application on the application is subject to verification and that any false or misleading information may result in refusal to hire or, if already hired, the immediate termination of employment.
- Require every applicant for employment to sign a waiver and consent form authorizing the prospective employer to check references and authorizing all former employers, supervisors, and managers to release information in response to a request for a reference and/or verification of employment.
- Establish a written procedure for reference checking including when in the hiring process reference checks will be conducted, who will conduct the reference checks, and what kinds of documentation will be kept of information obtained through reference check.
- Limit questions to information that is job-related; don't ask for medical information, information about physical characteristics, and/or other personal information that is not related to the employee's conduct on the job.
- Consider preparing a list of job-related questions that will be asked of all finalists for a particular position. This may help avoid claims of discrimination or claims that prospective employer inquired about the information that it was not legally entitled to have.
- Be fair and consistent.