Have you ever contacted a potential employee’s reference

Have you ever contacted a potential employee’s reference

Only to receive the standard response, “We only confirm position and dates of hire”?
Some employers only provide dates of employment, position held and salary because of fear of litigation when it comes to former employees. The following tips can help you get more information from references:

Prior to contacting references:

  • Make sure employment applications include a statement that a pre-hire background check is required and that if an applicant provides false information on the application, it is grounds for rejection or termination.
  • Require candidates to sign a reference check release which provides their consent to background checks being conducted.
  • If the candidate asks you not to contact a former manager; be sure to ask for more information.

When contacting references:

  • Be friendly and respectful of their time.
  • Let the reference know that you are looking for the best fit for both the candidate and your company, and you appreciate any information they are willing to share.
  • Ask the basic questions like dates of employment, responsibilities, and earnings history first. These types of questions put no pressure on the respondents.
  • If you attempt to contact a reference several times and have no luck; send a letter requesting that the reference contact you and copy the candidate. This may prompt the candidate to contact the reference to escalate the process.
  • Be sure to get more than one reference on each candidate.
  • Check personal references as well as professional references. Personal references are often more candid and tell you a lot about a person’s character.
  • There is something less than perfect about everyone as it applies to a given job. Be skeptical about references that can’t find anything wrong with the candidate.
  • Be aware of long pauses and tone of voice; this could be an indication of a concern.  If generalizations are made, ask for more detail.  Often it is what is unsaid that gives you the greatest clues to what a reference may really think.
  • Ask whether a candidate is eligible for rehire.  If not, there may be cause for concern.

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