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But What About Reference Checks as a Part of Pre-Employment Background Screening

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But What About Reference Checks as a Part of Pre-Employment Background Screening

Reference checks are a critical part of a pre-employment background check, but sometimes they are forgotten or overlooked or not taken as seriously as one might expect.

But what about Reference Checks?

Adam Almeida, President and CEO of, a leading supplier of pre-employment background screening to companies large and small, states: "Reference checks are a critical component in background screening, one that is vital in verifying information provided by applicants."

From (Apr. 17, 19):

Many employers check references as part of the hiring process. A reference check is when an employer contacts a job applicant’s previous employers, schools, colleges, and other sources to learn more about his or her employment history, educational background, and qualifications for a job. (1)

As with any part of the pre-employment background screening process, a reference check, in most cases, must be allowed or given permission by the applicant. Generally, an applicant will sign a release form which will allow for HR or a third-party background screening agency to conduct a reference check.

But what is referenced in a reference check?

Typically, a reference check will review and verify information provided on an application. There are several types of reference checks, depending on the type of information required.

Education Reference - Degrees and certifications can be reviewed for accuracy and validity. There are on-line databases that can provide reference on education and colleges and universities will provide this information was well.

Employment Reference - An employment reference check could be as simple as verifying dates of employment and salary, as permitted by law, but could also include a reference from a manager or colleague.

Trade Association Reference - In some cases an employer may look to an applicant's associations with Trade organizations or societies as may be related to a specific job or role.

Almeida states: "The laws governing reference checks are tricky and often different from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. A best practice remains for employers to work with a well-qualified third-party pre-employment background screening agency, such as, in order to stay compliant with law."

One area of reference check that can be troubling to candidates is called a backdoor reference check or informal background check.

From the blog site (Apr. 17, 19):

However, an informal reference check is done through personal contacts in the industry. This is the one that’s done on the Q.T. and cannot be controlled or restricted. Here one’s reputation in the industry is what is important. Building such a reputation is a slow, deliberate, and often challenging process. Ruining it can be fast–and difficult to recover. (2)

Almeida notes: "While informal reference checks will always happen, there are laws in place that protect applicants from defamation of character."

In the end a reference check is an important tool utilized by hiring managers as part of a thorough pre-employment background check.

Almeida concludes: "As always a best practice remains that employers work with a third-party background screening agency, such as in order to stay fully compliant. Laws governing references can vary from state to state." is a third-party background screening company, a member of the NAPBS and advocate of SHRM; that can provide compliant solutions for all screening requirements. From pre-employment to post-hire screening, as well as volunteer, caregiver and nanny checks, provides background screening services across a broad array of industries. From the smallest organization to the largest corporation, can fulfill every background screening requirement.



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