Northern California Engineering Contractors Association

What Can You Legally Ask a Job Reference

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For those looking for a job, potential employers will likely ask for references. Therefore, it is important to understand what questions employers ask your references. As an employer, you may find that reference checks help paint a complete picture of a potential hire. Asking the right questions about your candidate`s professional qualifications will help you learn more about the candidate`s skills than in a traditional interview. Key overview: The questions you ask references should inform the candidate-reference relationship, as well as the candidate`s skills and ability to act as a team player. ALWAYS be vigilant for bias or discrimination in references, especially bias and discrimination related to protected class information. As a former employer, you can legally discuss truths about your former employee`s job performance. These truths can be positive or negative, but they cannot be personal opinions. For example, you can indicate that your former employee consistently submitted projects late or did not meet their quarterly goals, as these actions can be documented and records can be created if legal action arises about your statements. On the other hand, if you indicate that you think your former employee is lazy or incompetent and therefore submitted projects late, you may be forced to answer for these statements in court. Depending on your location, the employer may need your consent before they can contact your references.

Some cities and states have restrictions on what information can be shared by a previous employer. Let`s take a closer look at the first requirement. There is a big difference in the world between the question, “How did you get along with other people this way and that?” and “How did you get along with other people at work?” When the first question is asked, a reference should refine their answer by saying something like, “As for his/her ability to get along with others at work, I`d say he/she was good.” The same applies to any other matter referred to. As long as the question and/or answer is limited to a workplace answer, there is no reason not to answer. Some employers will check references in writing in order to have a reference record. It also gives the arbitrator permission to disclose information on behalf of the claimant. Some questions may seem harmless at first, but the impact of asking them during a baseline interview can be extreme. The purpose of a reference exam is to examine and understand a candidate`s experience in a work environment. Even if you`ve only recently worked together, it`s helpful to discuss what the new job entails and what the hiring manager wants to expect from a successful candidate. This way, your reference can highlight the skills and experience that match the duties of the position.

This article covers frequently asked questions about reference checks so you can develop a compliant list that includes the answers you need to hire with confidence. You can talk to references and take notes, but confirmed written reference exams are the best way to do this for a variety of reasons. Now you know what you can`t ask for during a reference check. You should use a reference exam to understand your candidate`s qualifications. Instead, ask questions like: Credit history reports are only legally available if the position requires it. If an employer`s informed hiring decision requires an employee`s credit history, it may be requested. However, no questions can be asked about the applicant`s credit history during a reference check. Such matters expose the Company to the risk of not complying with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). A candidate for a job at your company who is interviewing is not always a perfect hire.

You can get a better idea of a candidate`s compatibility with your company by checking their credentials, especially if you ask the right questions, focusing on the candidate`s performance and what it was like to work and collaborate with them. ALWAYS try to get enough references to establish a candidate performance trend and act as a buffer against biased and discriminatory references. It is always best to inform candidates in advance that reference and qualification checks will be conducted for all shortlisted candidates. In this way, you repel opportunities and wasted time. So, if we understand that any response should be strictly limited to workplace observations, we can move on to the second part – truth and honest opinions. As most people know, “truth is an absolute defense,” we are ready to continue. For example, if a potential employer asks for a reference on why the candidate left their last job, and the answer is, “He was fired for stealing company property,” and that`s TRUE, there`s no reason not to say so. Or, if a potential employer should ask, “What did you think of so-and-so`s ability to lead others?” and the reference says, “I thought he had a lot to learn about delegating responsibilities instead of trying to do everything himself,” and that`s the honest opinion of the reference, again, there`s no reason not to say that. A reference check is the process by which an employer communicates with people who can shed light on a candidate`s strengths and discuss the qualifications listed on the candidate`s resume. These contacts are usually former employers, but also university professors, long-time colleagues and other people familiar with the candidate`s work. This misconception stems from the widespread use of “no referral” policies by companies, which generally prohibit current employees from revealing anything other than any information about current and former employees.

A non-standard reference review process also increases the likelihood that personal or discriminatory biases in a referral will affect a candidate`s final decision. Here are some of the questions employers can ask your references: And for good reason. The EEOC secured $484 million for victims of workplace discrimination in 2017, and for many companies, these risks outweigh the benefits of a detailed referral for former employees. Typically, employers ask for your references on your job performance and personal suitability, such as whether you got along well with your co-workers.