References Information for Employers

Which references should I follow-up with?

In asking your potential employee to provide references, think about what those references might know about your employee, and if they can account for your employee’s work-related qualities. Past and present employers usually know about such things as their reliability, initiative, and their ability to work with others. This type of information is valuable, even if their employment was not related to the position they are currently applying for.  For potential employees without much work history -  - especially younger applicants - - school faculty may know about their academic ability, productivity, and timeliness. Others, such as advisors/coaches, clergy, or volunteer services coordinators, may also be aware of information that could be valuable and relevant in deciding whether to hire a potential employee. Avoid selecting references who only know the potential employee or applicant in a social capacity.

How should I proceed with contacting and questioning a named reference?

Your potential employee or applicant should never give you someone’s name and contact information as a reference, without first having gotten permission from that individual to do so, in the first place.  For this reason, their named references should not be surprised or put out by a follow-up call from you, a potential employer.  It would also not be unreasonable to expect that the named reference has been informed as to the general field in which the potential employee is seeking employment, and can speak in some detail and with some authority as to how the applicant would perform the duties related to such employment.  Finally, it might also be appropriate to inquire with the reference as to their knowledge of the potential employee’s interests, abilities, and related experiences.  A competent and well-informed reference is a reflection of the potential employee’s organization, preparation, and good-standing with other responsible community members.

When should ask for a list of references from a potential employee?

In short, whenever you think it is appropriate.  The potential employee should be ready to provide such a list, as needed, and when asked.  And, you should feel confident in making such a request at anytime during the application and interview process.  A word of caution however . . . Properly following-up with references is and should be a bit time-consuming.  For this reason, most employers will do some initial screening of potential employees via telephone or e-mail, reviewing the applicants’ resumes, and perhaps conducting interviews before contacting references, but of course the choice is yours.

What information should the references contain?

The information provided to you should have the individual’s complete name - - first and last, along with a designation as to whether they are Mr., Mrs., or Ms.  Further, the information should include the full name of the company, business, or organization they are affiliated with; their title, or at least the capacity in which they know the potential employee; and a complete address, telephone number(s), and/or an e-mail address provided to facilitate easy communication with the named party.  If e-mail is the first mode of contact, it is strongly suggested that you follow-up with at least a telephone call to the reference.

What should the potential employee’s references say about them?

Some references may not be sure what they are to say on the applicant’s behalf. Encourage them to mention:

�the capacity in which they know the applicant
�the time frame of the relationship
�the positive qualities demonstrated in the position

Remind the potential employee that, in their providing the list of references, they are summarily granting you permission to contact the named individuals, including any former employers and/or teachers, professors, or school faculty listed.  It is not appropriate to request a reference from a doctor or other medical professional in order to speak with them about the potential employee’s physical or mental health status.