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Seeking references

Seeking references

Posted: 19th May 2021

Viewing 6 posts - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)
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  • #12034

    As a HR team we are questionning whether we need to obtain references from previous employers – 9 times out of 10 we dont get a response and when we do its a standard tombstone one. What do people think about removing this additional element from the recruitment process?


    Im very interested in this too, employer reference’s seem very archaic and don’t actually provide any insight


    Personally, I’ve never given too much weight to reference checks unless I can somehow be reassured that it is done properly and thoroughly which as you mention in your post, even if done so more often than not, we encounter that we’re given some ‘vanilla’ comments and/or only confirmation of factual information as most people are scared of being sued for making some sort of defamatory comments.

    If anything, I found that careful, informal conversations from people who have contacts in the industry might be useful but generally speaking that would be applicable for relatively senior roles and for people who are well known in a particular market or industry (which is the type of roles I’ve been involved in recruiting for in recent years). Clearly that approach would not work if recruiting for a middle of the road say, call centre or customer service role.


    • This reply was modified 1 year, 6 months ago by .

    I agree.  References are pointless and people who insist on them are only going to get confirmation of dates worked at previous organisations, nothing else of any import.  A massive waste of any HR department’s time, it adds nothing of value.  Similarly in answering reference requests on ex-employees with the caveats attached by lawyers.

    Proper management of any probation period is what should be used to deal with any concerning performance issues – if that’s the actual worry.



    We are having a similar discussion at the moment.

    I’m definitely in the camp of knowing the pain they create in terms of administrative burden for the team, when in reality they usually come back pretty vanilla with just name, job title etc!

    Ideally we’d like to do away with them but have been exploring what particular roles might warrant that check, to protect the business.

    As a result, we’re going to add a step to our recruitment process where we can explore whether the role needs a reference? E.g. for leadership roles or where there may be sensitive data handled e.g Finance/Customer Services- and then only do it in these cases.

    We’re also exploring with our senior team to help understand their perspectives and using it as another opportunity to embed the EACH principles subtly! 🤞


    I’d love to stop doing them but my company works with FCA regulated businesses and they insist we do these checks – we’ve outsourced it to Sterling Background checks, it’s relatively cheap but it really a tick box exercise for compliance vs. actually adding any value!

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