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Reference Checks

References are necessary in order to verify the information that has been provided by candidates about their qualifications.

They further allow you to identify any areas of strengths and development that can inform your hiring decision as well as assist with effective on-boarding.

Typically, three references are collected however, additional references can be requested as appropriate.

Once the campus visit has occurred and input sought from members of your department/school, you are advised to give careful thought to the types of referees and any particular individuals you would find helpful to speak with.

Reference letters undoubtedly provide valuable information however it is critical to speak with referees to confirm the information you have obtained from the candidate.

Reference calls will allow you to ask probing questions and also create an opportunity for the referee to provide additional information that may not be available in their letters. It is also important to consider obtaining a variety of references, e.g. from students, PhD supervisors, research collaborators, industry partners, etc. so as to obtain a complete picture of the candidate's qualifications and achievements.

The referees should be those that are not in a conflict of interest with the candidate and will be able to provide a fair and objective assessment.

They should be knowledgeable about the candidate's qualifications and the field at large so as to provide a critical analysis of the candidate’s achievements.

As noted above, a variety of references should be requested to allow for a more comprehensive feedback and assessment.

The template ads indicate that names and contact information for three references be provided as part of the application.

Some DHCs prefer to indicate that they will be requesting references at a later stage.

In either case, reference checks are typically left towards the later part of the assessment process once the campus visit has occurred and you have all of the information you could have obtained about the candidate’s qualifications in front of you.

Only members of the DHC should conduct the reference checks either as a group or by a designated member of the DHC who will return with detailed notes from the reference checks.

  • Instead of directly calling the referee, write to them first to schedule a time to speak. 
  • Provide some context in advance such as a copy of the job ad, details about your Department/School (e.g. size of the department, student population, departmental strategic goals/initiatives, research areas and funding, etc.) and about Ryerson. 
  • Request permission from the candidate to share their CV with the referee for the referee’s reference. 
  • Provide details in your email invitation to the referee on what you would like to know more about relative to the candidate’s qualifications.

Give careful consideration to the requirements of the position, what information has been collected that needs to be verified and what information either needs to be clarified or sought.

Remember to stay on track by collecting facts and concrete and relevant examples that can help in the assessment of the candidate and to take detailed notes, including the date of the conversation and names of those participating on the call.

See also  PDF fileAvoiding Unintended Gender Bias in Letters of Recommendation, external link for further insights.