The Recruitment Cycle: Part 6 – Phase II – Reference Checks

5 mins read

This article is a guide to reference checking applicants during the recruitment process.

During the Reference Check phase, HR will speak with the candidate’s previous managers over the phone to discuss their workplace behaviours, conduct pre-employment testing, and/or pre-hiring background checks.

For safety sensitive positions, companies are in their full right to conduct OH&S pre-employment testing with a certified vendor. Pre-Employment Testing is required by certain companies to be completed and passed before working onsite in many field-based positions. This is common for industries like Oil & Gas, Mining & Minerals, and Agriculture. For further details read our article Occupational Health & Safety Pre-Employment Screening.

Additionally, in the country of Canada, pre-hiring background checks such as educational and criminal checks are permissible. You must always obtain consent before doing any kind of pre-employment test or pre-hiring background check on the prospective employee. If you do not receive consent from or fail to notify an individual that you are conducting a background check on them, you are infringing on their privacy, which is in violation to their Human Rights. When you infringe on a person’s human rights, you are at risk of putting your company (and yourself) through legal proceedings, which can result in detrimental financial penalties or in severe cases, serving a jail sentence.

It is crucial when performing a pre-employment test or pre-hiring background checks that they are documented in your process and that there is a valid occupational requirement of doing so. Generally, these checks are disclosed during the pre-screen and clearly stated in the prospective employees offer of employment.

Note: You cannot refuse to employ someone who has been convicted of a criminal offense, unless you can prove it has a direct impact on the person’s ability to do the job. If a prospective employee does not give consent to conduct pre-hiring background checks, then the company is in their full right to rescind the offer without consequences.

The pre-hiring background checks are not a requirement but are generally used for positions in Executive roles, Financial Services, Law, Childcare and Education, Healthcare, Government Workers, and Information & Technology. For further details read our article Background Checks for Business.


Reference Checks

Tip: Best practice is to ask the candidate for 2 previous managers references to conduct checks and get a fuller picture of their workplace behaviours.

Note: This step may also include conducting OH&S Pre-employment and/or Pre-Hiring Background checks.

Step 1: Conduct Reference Checks

        • Using the same Recruitment Workbook downloaded for each applicant in the previous step

Step 2: Review Reference Check(s) results

        • If the candidate did not check out or pass their results. You may need to return to the sourcing phase or discuss with the HM on conditions of hiring the candidate

Step 3: If the candidate checked out and passed their results. Proceed to the Approval to Hire Phase

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This brings us to the conclusion of the third sub-phase of the Sourcing and Selection process. The Reference Check phase is when HR will verify the candidate’s employment and workplace behaviours and, in some circumstances, check that the candidate passes the company’s pre-employment and pre-hiring background checks.

To learn more join us for Part 7 where we will be discussing, “Phase II – Approval To Hire and Offer Extensions”

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