What you need to know about Reference Checking

  • FRIDAY, OCTOBER 19, 2018

Most candidates will have experienced the final stages of the recruitment process, when the end goal is so close you can almost touch it! Although reference checking sounds like a “tick in the box” type of exercise experience tells us that this step should not be taken lightly and jobs have been won, and lost, at this stage of the game.

Hiring managers regard references and background checks as an essential part of their recruitment process. So here’s some top tips for getting the most out of reference checking:

  • When does it happen? – Typically reference checking commences after the interview process is complete. Usually the preferred candidate is reference checked, however it is not uncommon for a company to reference check the top two candidates in order to split them apart. Reference checking does not necessarily mean you have got the job – but it certainly is a positive sign.
  • Will I get notified? – Yes, you will be notified when a company would like to commence reference checking. If we are asked to conduct your references we will contact you to ask your permission to call your referees, even if you have listed the referees on your CV.
  • Who should I use? – Although it can be tempting to use a friend, colleague or even your mum, we recommend using at least two former direct line managers. Ideally one should be a recent manager (although do not jeopardize your current job by approaching your current manager).
  • How do I prepare my referees? – It is professional courtesy to call your referees to ask their permission every time you need to use them. Do not assume because you used them two years ago that you can use them again. Also, it is good practice to have a “refresher” chat with your referees to help them recall all the great things about you. We suggest you ask what time they would prefer to be called. It is a good idea to keep in touch with your referees from time to time because you never know when you might need them again!
  • What questions get asked in a reference check? – It is important to know what will be asked during a reference check as it may give you ideas how to prepare your referees:

- Confirmation of dates of employment and job title/overview.

- The reporting relationship between you and the referee.

- Your performance in the job / specific successes and achievements.

- Your strengths.

- Your areas for development.

- Their assessment of other competencies such as interpersonal skills, admin skills, team working, leadership, problem solving and working under pressure.

- Would they rehire you in a similar role (the answer should be YES!!).

  • Are written references ok? – Generally speaking companies do not accept written references in place of verbal ones.
    What is the difference between reference checking and background checking? – Some companies outsource these processes to a third party company. As well as speaking to your nominated referees, they may also ask your permission to check the following: 

- Your identity

- Your qualifications

- Your eligibility to work in Australia (visa status)

- Police checks

- Driving licence and traffic offence record

- Accuracy of your employment history (as per your CV)