One of the most important decisions that a manager can make is the decision to hire an employee.  In fact, Auburn University invests more than $600 million annually in its employees. 

In addition to evaluating your candidate pool, interviewing candidates, and initiating background checks, one critical step when hiring an employee is to check the references of your top candidates.  Typically, past performance is a strong indicator of future performance and can reveal an individual's professionalism, productivity, job skills, and interpersonal communication skills.

Checking references will assist you in selecting the right talent for your department and will also help protect the University by mitigating the risk of negligent hiring situations.  Negligent hiring situations can be costly to the University and cause serious morale and productivity issues within a program or department.  Research shows that employers lose approximately 75 percent of all negligent hiring claims.

Tips for Conducting Reference Checks

  • Develop a list of questions. (Refer to the example questions provided.)

  • Be consistent in the questions you ask. (i.e., Ask the same question of each reference provider for each candidate.)

  • Don’t miss any red flags and be comfortable asking follow-up questions if needed.

  • Confirm the information as presented by the candidate in their material and interview.

  • Check a reference of a former supervisor. (A best practice is to contact at least two supervisors if within a relevant period of time.)

  • Remember confidentiality obligations and the comfort level to share sensitive information.

  • Establish rapport of the reference provider before you begin the questions.

  • Document the reference check information obtained.

  • Ensure that your questions are job-related.

Last updated: 02/16/2023