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The recruitment process can be challenging. There is a huge list to work through before you can make that employment offer. You need to consider, 
➡️ The job advert 
➡️ The interview preparation 
➡️ The interview questions and evaluation 
➡️ Sending out the offer 
And then comes the reference check. 
A candidate is likely to have given you one or two names of previous employers and it is important that you contact them to ensure that the information the candidate has given you is accurate. 
A lot of organisations have a standard reference check. A few simple questions to complete but does it really provide the information you need? 
First and foremost, you should make the form simple. Most managers do not have a lot of time to spend on reference requests and you want to make sure that they will be returned. However, you can still ask them to delve a little deeper than a few tick boxes if you word the request correctly. 

What is the purpose of a reference check? 

There are three main reasons a new employer should ask for references. 
1 - To check the information that the candidate has disclosed is correct 
2 - To discover their key skills and how you can offer opportunities to enhance them 
3 - To give previous employers the chance to be honest about them. 
It is important to remember that you are not trying to catch the candidate out; you are simply verifying the facts. 

Designing a reference form 

When you design a reference form, consider asking open questions. It will encourage a previous employer to go into a little more detail. 
Some example questions could be, 
➡️Can you tell me how reliable this employee was when they were employed by your company? 
➡️What do you consider to be their biggest strengths? 
➡️What areas, if any, could we support them to improve? 
➡️What would you say were their biggest accomplishments whilst employed by your company? 
➡️Why would you recommend them? 
➡️Is there anything else you would like to add? 

Can an employer give an unfavourable reference? 

In truth, yes. As long as the reference is fair and accurate, they can state any negative information. For example, if the employees’ contract was terminated, the previous employer is entitled to state why. 
However, if a reference is not glowing, the employer should be able to back this up with evidence. 

Is an employer legally obligated to give a reference? 

No. unless their industry is regulated, such as financial services. There is no obligation to provide a reference. 
For this reason, you should try to keep the request simple. 

What if a candidate refuses to give reference names? 

A candidate does not have to provide reference names until an offer has been made and you should not seek to gain references until this stage of the process. 
There may be several reasons why a candidate cannot provide names, for example, no previous work experience, they have been self-employed, or they are a graduate. 
If this is the case, I would suggest asking for personal references or that of clients, mentors, or other professionals. 
If they still refuse, you should have a conversation with the candidate as to why that is the case and make an informed decision as to whether to continue with their application based on their answer. 
Please do not hesitate to contact if you would like any advice. Taking HR from 'TO DO' to 'DONE'. 
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