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California State University, Long BeachCalifornia State University, Long Beach

Telephone Reference Check

Who Should Check References

Some jobs cannot be delegated.

If the employee will report directly to you, you should check the references.

No matter how thorough someone else might be, corollary questions will come up that may not occur to others. Also, if the person checking the reference is able to speak with his or her counterpart at the other firm, the likelihood of obtaining a candid reference is substantially improved. If a president speaks to a president, or a manager to a manager there is bound to be some camaraderie which will prompt a more honest and detailed reference. Often, the higher up you go in the company hierarchy to check references, the more candid the responses will be provided, of course, the executive knows the candidate and his or her abilities.

Reference checking is a "do it yourself" project. Avoid assigning the job to any other person in your department, or any outside organization, with the possible exception of an investigating service that specializes in verifying dates of employment and education. (They may also be able to determine if the candidate has been convicted of a crime.) But, aside from those basics, an outsider would have difficulty in judging someone's competency to do a particular job you have in mind. All in all, it's in your best interest for you to get the facts directly from the sources.

If you do not have the time to do a thorough job yourself, and feel compelled to assign the task, then compromise by assigning just part of the reference checking to a competent assistant. Handle one, preferably two, of the reference checks yourself.