Telephone References

It is an important professional courtesy that you contact the candidate BEFORE you contact their references, or to get their permission to contact additional individuals who are not on their list of references if that is the committee’s desire.

  • For the sake of consistency, if possible, telephone references for each applicant should be checked by the same person, or team of people.
  • It is helpful in some cases to make a telephone appointment in advance.
  • Make a checklist of specific questions and topics to be discussed.
  • Identify yourself, your organization and department, and the reason for your call. Assure the individual that references are confidential. Try to establish a rapport.  Make sure that they know the specific position and general responsibilities and qualifications requested.
  • Allow time for responses; follow up and probe when you feel the person is reluctant to discuss certain topics.
  • Make every effort to be open-minded and objective.
  • Document the reference checks (employer, name of individual who provided the reference, questions asked, and responses).
  • Questions must be job related.

Information obtained in a reference check is completely confidential, but may be subjected to a court order.  It is the policy of the Commonwealth of Virginia to ensure compliance with the Privacy Protection Act of 1976.