Employment references are a very important source of information for a recruiter during the selection process. Learning how to check them and discovering their key points can help the recruiter make the right decision.

With this post, we begin a series of posts on techniques for checking an employee’s competence as well as the employee’s references.

When starting the rejection phase of the selection process, any type of employment reference will be valuable information that the recruiter will take into account to properly assess the candidate. Despite the fact that this is subjective data that can be distorted by the personal relationship between the referrer and the reference, it is important to place the data obtained together with the information at hand.

As many times the candidate may make up the information or embellish it to make it more convincing, the recruiter should always check the authenticity of the letters of recommendation and contact the signatories by phone.

Doing a little research online and asking the candidate for at least three different references can help give the job recommendation the right value in the selection process.

What are job candidate references?

When we talk about references, what we are looking for is that the candidate provides us with a credible source of information that provides us with knowledge of a subject in a specific activity, always related to the world of work or study.

What a job reference gives us is the opportunity to ask a third party about aptitudes and flaws that a candidate may have, in order to add them to the rest of the information we have, from the curriculum vitae to the job portfolio or cover letter.

Therefore, a job reference should never replace the documents we traditionally require to assess a subject, but rather should complement and especially confirm them.

The value is relative and should always be weighed against the other processes involved in the selection, such as the telephone interview or psychometric and knowledge tests.

This is due to the subjective nature of references, as it is difficult to find a person who speaks with total impartiality about another person, as personal relationships can permeate the professional impression.

What is the importance of a candidate’s references?

While their value is relative, they all contribute to a candidate’s ability to perform as the best in the selection process.

Providing references is a sign of transparency and honesty on the part of the candidate, as those who refuse to provide them convey the feeling that they are trying to hide something or that they do not want to fully open up to the recruiter.

The questions we need to answer with references are those that tell us about the position held, the professional functions for which the candidate was responsible, and, above all, the way they work. As well as personal and professional qualities that may be relevant to the position offered.

The recruiter must not forget the subjective nature of employment references, because, behind the professional relationship, there are always traces of personal relationships that can tip the balance to one side or the other.

Job references can be surprising, as many often end up with a negative opinion of the candidate. We are not saying that the recommender is discrediting the referrer, but that many times, coincidentally, the referrer may say something about the candidate’s shortcomings that, in some selection processes, maybe the key to his or her rejection.

Bad references are not usually a reason for rejection, but it is true that bad references confirmed by several sources can cause a candidate to be overlooked in the selection process.

References in a job interview

.The interview acts as a step before getting the job, so it is important to observe the attitude of the interviewee as well as listen carefully because their gestures and their know-how will reveal a lot about their personality. But in the interview, we must not forget the employment references, which allow us to verify the competences that the subject claims to have. During the interview, in addition to asking for the relevant references to verify the information, we must also ask about the relationship between the employee and the reference. In this way, the recruiter will be able to correctly assess the employee references provided


How do you collect references for a job?

Traditionally, the most common method is a letter signed by the person who is recommending or by the company. Some companies have a template document that is provided when an employee with whom the relationship has been good ends. But it is a good idea for candidates to receive a more personal letter that details their performance with the company.

Another of the most common methods is for the recruiter to contact the person who provides the reference. It is necessary to ask candidates for a means of communication, which can be an email or a telephone number. As this information is sensitive and protected by law, the candidate must inform the ‘recommender’ that they have given their contact details to the recruitment company.

Finally, professional social networks such as LinkedIn facilitate the whole process with their employment reference tools. Although it is always better to get first-hand information, an employee’s social profile can provide us with a lot of information about their attitude and suitability for the company.

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