It used to be routine for employers to check references without the applicant’s consent. It wasn’t that long ago that this was a common practice, and there were many reasons for doing this. For example, if a reference check returned negative, the employer would not have to explain their decision to the applicant.
However, this practice is no longer allowed. Applicants must now sign a release that states they allow the prospective employer to check their references. Unless employers receive such a signed release giving consent to speak with them, they should not reach out to references. If you want to reach out to potential references that aren’t provided, then you should note that you may “develop references.” This type of reference checking should be reserved for key hires or executives.
Keep reading to learn more about the reference checking process, and contact Barada Associates for professional background checking services.
What to Do Before You Check References Without Consent
Before reference checking without consent, review the wording of your release. Consider a revision if your release statement only states you check references listed on an application or resume. This revision should grant your company more opportunities to look into applicants.
A broader statement might include permission to check references as well as question anyone who might be familiar with the candidate’s job performance. This opens up your reference check calls.
For example, if an applicant gives the name of a colleague or someone who was not a direct supervisor, it makes sense to ask who the direct supervisor was as part of your references check. If you are able to speak to that supervisor, you did directly check references without consent, and you are still covered under your broader, revised release statement.
What to Do While in the Reference Checking Process
While you check your candidate’s references, ask plenty of open-ended questions. This prods the reference to provide an honest answer without knowing what specific information you seek.
For example, if you ask the question, “Was Jane’s work always submitted on time?” The reference knows you are looking for them to tell you “yes.” However, if you ask, “How were Jane’s project management skills?” The reference will likely discuss time management and punctuality without disclosing your true aim.
Open-ended questions also help if personal references from a previous employer have been “coached” by the applicant. A good applicant informs a reference she is applying for a job. However, some applicants go a step further and tell the reference what they want them to say. This is not particularly helpful to an employer, so asking open-ended questions is a good way around this.
Finally, while you speak with a reference, if you realize the person does not understand the applicant’s work thoroughly, ask who the applicant’s direct supervisor is and see if you could ask them.
If you have the proper release in your company’s application, you then have permission to talk to another employee at this company. A solid reference from an applicant’s former supervisor is significantly more helpful than simply hearing from an applicant’s best friend at work.
What Should Employers Do After Checking References?
Be sure to write down important information about an applicant immediately following any reference check. If any information is of concern, inform the members of your search committee right away.
Occasionally reference checks elicit more questions for your applicant. At this point, return to your applicant with requests for more information or explanation. It’s best to start a working relationship with as much trust as possible. Remember, they’re considering you as much as you’re considering them. Avoid the perception of distrust and, instead, embrace comprehensiveness.
Finally, to avoid a negative reference, doing your due diligence before hiring is always better than discovering a mistake after hiring has occurred!
Unsure if Your Process Allows You to Check References Without Consent? Talk to Barada Associates
Whether you need assistance with your background checks or would like to verify your process allows you to check professional references without consent, Barada Associates is here to help! We are the premier provider of employment screening and reference reports.
Why Work With Barada for Employment Services?
At Barada, we have over 40 years of experience helping businesses succeed in the employment process. We know that every company is different and embrace that by working with each client on an individual basis. We create a custom approach for each business that we work with to ensure the best results. With our help, you’ll be wondering why you never used a background check company before!
The hiring process can be very time-consuming and frustrating. However, by taking advantage of our services, you can save yourself a lot of time and headaches. We will work with you every step of the way to make sure the hiring and interview process is as smooth as possible!
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