When it comes to the hiring process for companies, references are what help set apart qualified candidates, from not. Making them one of the most important parts of the background check process, but what exactly are professional references?

What are Professional References?

In the hiring process, an employer asks for references as proof of a potential employee’s past job experience and an endorsement of their skills and work ethic. A reference check is when an employer gets in touch with a potential employee’s references listed to get more information about their past job experiences. 

How many references does an employer usually want? A typical company will usually ask for three references, which a potential employee can have listed on their resume.

The references they provide will be contacted by reference checkers who will ask about their employment history, qualifications, and work ethic. The references they list are people they may know professionally, typically from a volunteer, work, or educational perspective.

Types of People To Include as References

You should include the following people as potential references:

  • Professors, teachers, lab instructors, teaching assistants
  • Supervisors
  • Coaches, mentors
  • Colleagues who can elaborate on your abilities and skills
  • Account Manager

Do not allow potential employees to include relatives and friends in their references.

Don’t ever ignore potential employees listed references. Allowing them to put friends or relatives down as professional references or not follow up with references is often considered a poor business practice. 

A survey by the Society for Human Resource Management found that 92% of employers follow up on references as part of background checks during pre-screening for employment. A repeat follow-up on references can also be done during a promotion or annually.

How To List References

Your reference sheet should include a line for each reference. Be sure to include contact details for the reference, their name, title, phone number, email address, and the place of work. 

The reference listed by a potential employee may have changed jobs since the last time they worked with your potential employee. For that reason, consider having potential employees indicating how their reference knows them. For example, indicate ‘former supervisor.’ It may have been a while since a potential employee has spoken to one of their listed references. Recommending them to reach out to their listed references before putting them down is often helpful.

Have your potential employees list their references with their original resume. Including references in the resume saves time throughout the hiring process.

The Questions You Want to Ask a Reference

When you are thinking about the questions you will want to ask a potential employee’s reference, make sure that you are always being consistent. Ensure you are being consistent by asking the same questions of all references. The quality of feedback becomes more valuable if the questions are asked in a consistent manner across all applicants.

Contact References Beforehand

Make sure you have potential employees contact the people they plan to include in their reference sheet to make sure they are aware they will be contacted. An employer gets a compact impression of a potential employee after surveying questions about them from their references, which makes them very important to the hiring process. 

The exact number of references an employer would require depends on the role and the company in question.

For example, if you are hiring for a senior job position, you may want to require that they list up to six people as references.

Choose Barada Associates for Background Checks

When it comes to all things background checks, look towards Barada Associates. We have helped countless businesses with their background check needs and are ready to assist you with anything questions or concerns!

Contact us today for more information regarding job references for employee background checks!