Most interviewers know it’s unwise to make a hiring decision without first checking an applicant’s references and, in many instances, conducting a thorough background check. Despite well-honed recruiting, screening, and interviewing skills, even the most seasoned interviewers feel uncomfortable extending a job offer without more closely examining information about the person selected.
Reliance on references and background checks has increased, due in part to concerns over charges of negligent hiring and retention. In addition, there is greater anxiety over identify theft. News of executive embezzlement and unscrupulous behavior has also left employers wary of hiring without first conducting reference and background checks on all individuals, regardless of position or level.
Employers conducting reference and background checks need to be able to distinguish between the two forms of information gathering, consider relevant legal guidelines, and become familiar with both reference essentials and the fundamentals of background checks.
Internet-based references will be explored in Chapter 14.
While “references” and “background checks” are both part of the selection process, each focuses on different aspects of an individual’s past.
References probe an individual’s work- and education-related background. The primary purpose of any reference check is to (1) verify information provided by the applicant throughout the application process and (2) establish job suitability. Most employers have a statement on their application forms informing would-be employees that a job offer is contingent upon satisfactory references and that falsification of any information is grounds for rejection, or termination if such information is