Checking References

References play a pivotal role in the hiring decision; they can provide testimony concerning a candidate's previous responsibilities, strengths, weaknesses, abilities, and achievements. A good, thorough reference check can mean the difference between hiring a suitable or unsuitable candidate. Carelessly done and overzealous reference checking can be an open door to lawsuits aimed at referees and the University. To reduce the risk, search committees should carefully plan the reference checking process and practice caution.

  • Select a couple of search committee members to perform the reference checks.
  • Obtain each candidate's authorization to conduct reference checks; this includes primary references requested in the position announcement and secondary, professional references (names that may surface because of an interview, the reference checking process, etc.). Determine if the candidate has any concerns about confidentiality and work with them to address any concerns identified.
  • Conduct reference calls as you would a formal, structured interview, i.e., develop a core list of questions you will ask all referees and a list of questions specific to an individual candidate’ referees.
  • Prepare the referee for the call by sending them the position announcement/description and relevant information about the department/school to help them frame their responses.
  • Do not rush the interview process. Make sure to have ample time to thoroughly explore and carefully probe referees’ responses. (Use behaviorally anchored, open-ended questions and listen!)
  • Ask each reference to agree that your conversation will be held in strict confidence. Ask them to stick to the relevant facts and discuss only job-related information.

Contact Recruitment

Nura Kinge
Recruitment Partner
frpr@wu.edu

Debra Churos
Administrative Manager
202-994-7456
facrel@gwu.edu