Because of some technical difficulties, I’m unable to provide video this week, but welcome to HR Thursday on:
A Cautionary Note—various local, state, and federal laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, affect a prospective employer’s right to secure and use information during the screening process. Employers undertaking reference checks should:
- Become thoroughly familiar with all laws and regulations pretaining to pre-employment inquiries.
- Institute and follow procedures to maintain the confidentiality of all information obtained
- Take care to protest personal informaiton in employment files.
***Reference checking should be done only by trained management personnel or by an outside investigative agency.
Reference checking guidelines
Have the applicant’s permission in writing. Many former employers will refuse to supply such information without a signed consent from the former employee. Before initiating a reference check, ask job applicants to sign a release authorizing their former employer to provide employment-related information
Mail or fax a copy of the Reference Request form to former employer(s) (Ask me for a copy of this form for free)
Treat all reference information obtained in a confidential manner. Save information received from former employer(s) in Personnel File if hired. If not hired, store with other completed applications — you may have to justify later why a person was not hired.
Ensure that the information received is from an authorized source. Make sure that any professional or personal reference to be contacted is in a position to provide the kind of job-related information you need such as someone in a management position who has been delegated the responsibility to give out reference information. If applicable, speak to two persons for whom the applicant has worked on each job, the immediate supervisor and his/her superior.
Ask only direct and pointed, job-related questions.
If possible, ask the same questions of all references, and use the same format for all reference checks.
Document the questions you asked, as well as the responses. Your objective is to clear up discrepancies or fill in gaps in employment information.
Verify factual information, e.g., beginning and termination dates, reason for leaving, salary and positions held, former supervisor’s evaluation; personal information, such as education and qualifications, job responsibilities, position titles, etc.; ask about the applicant’s job performance, honesty, interpersonal skills, and judgment in fulfilling work related duties.
Do not ask questions that may not legally be asked of the applicant at the pre-job-offer stage. Avoid questions that are considered improper under state inquiry laws. Avoid discussing or alluding to an applicant’s age, physical or mental disabilities, earlier periods of unemployment, discrimination complaints, marital status, and citizenship or national origin.
Be cautious about any extreme comments you hear, good or bad, unless they are verified from other sources.
If negative business related information is uncovered, consider its source and check its accuracy with other sources.
Ensure that background information is weighed in the same way for all candidates. What disqualifies one candidate should be the basis for disqualifying any applicant.
Questions To Ask When Checking References
- Why did the applicant leave your employment?
- What was applicant’s beginning and ending date of employment?
- What was applicant’s salary at termination?
- What were the applicant’s major job responsibilities?
- How would you rate the applicant’s quality of work?
- Results of any performance evaluations?
- How was applicant’s punctuality and attendance history?
- Would you rehire the applicant?
- How would you characterize the relationship between the applicant and other staff members? How about between the applicant and patients, clients, and/or customers?
- What were the applicant’s principal strengths? Outstanding successes? Significant failures?
- How would you compare the applicant’s performance with the performance of others with similar responsibilities?
- Were you satisfied with the applicant’s management skills? (if applicable)
- How would you describe the applicant’s success in training, developing and motivating coworkers? (if applicable.)
- What other information do you have that would help develop a more complete work-related picture of the applicant?
For more information, contact Bent Ericksen & Associates
If you’d like a copy of Form #105 Reference Request Form to Former Employer(s), please let me know!
Have a wonderful week!