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California State University, Long BeachCalifornia State University, Long Beach

Telephone Reference Check

Whom Should You Contact?

Be creative in finding references.

The Obvious

These include the references the candidate gives to you. Ask for many. It can be safely assumed that those on the bottom of the list are the least important. However, they may very well be the ones who will be the most candid.

The Immediate Supervisor

Also try contacting the person above the immediate supervisor. These are the people who should know the candidate's work best.

Your Counterpart

It's worth repeating the person who does the same work you do at the company you're contacting for a reference, is the one most likely to level with you.

A References Network

Ask some of those who give you references to also give you the name of another person to contact in the organization. Then ask that person to recommend another and so on. Obviously, it's better to talk to more people than just a job candidate's "friends."

Personal References

Relatives, teachers, and clergy generally have limited value in reference checking, but it certainly can't hurt to contact a few, particularly if there are not enough employer references.

Human Resources Departments

HR departments are less candid than others when giving references. They will generally only confirm the position and dates of employment.

Your Own Contacts

Your friends, or friends' friends may know the candidate or someone at the candidate's company. Sometimes, contacts at firms that are competitors of the candidate's firm can give you helpful information, particularly if the candidate had high visibility within the industry.