Before finalizing candidate assessments, it is essential to complete meaningful reference and credential checks.  Clarify the nature of the references’ relationship with the applicant.  Candidates have a stake in suggesting those who will speak favorably of their abilities, and it is important to contact references capable of providing a balanced perspective.

It is useful to speak to current and former direct supervisors, as they are usually best able to provide meaningful information about job performance.  Where an applicant has little or no formal, paid working experience, consider contacting others familiar with their technical and performance skills, such as those who have taught the candidate or served with them as volunteers.  Should the committee wish to speak with an individual not on the candidate’s reference list, permission must be sought in advance from the candidate.

After confirming general information about the candidate’s experience with the referee, provide an overview of the job requirements. Ask the referee to comment on the candidate’s demonstrated abilities for satisfying each of these requirements. For example, if inquiring about a candidate’s level of initiative, ask for a specific instance when they showed initiative.  Reference questions can be based on the candidate’s answers to the interview questions to confirm their perspective.

At the close of the reference check, ask for an overall assessment of the candidate’s demonstrated capabilities in relation to the job requirements. For example, would the referee hire this candidate for the position being filled, and why? What particular challenges or difficulties would they expect the candidate to experience if awarded the job?

Download "Model Reference Check Form"