In accordance with the Hiring Guide, a minimum of two reference checks must be completed for every external hire and at least one reference check must be completed for every internal hire. The Employment References Policy governs reference checking.

Upon completion of the post interview meeting with human resources, the hiring manager is responsible for conducting references for the successful candidate in the job competition.

Conducting a Reference Check

  • Contact only the referees provided by the successful candidate on the Reference Consent Form, which must be signed by the candidate and dated
  • Identify yourself and the reason for your call to the referee
  • Advise the referee that you will need approximately 15 to 20 minutes of their time, ask if this is a good time, if not, arrange a more convenient time to call back
  • Give a brief description of the position for which the candidate is being considered
  • Confirm employment dates (month and year), job title, dependability and follow through on assignments, reason for leaving/termination (if appropriate), would you rehire the candidate (if possible), performance and attendance problems
  • Only ask questions specifically related to the candidate’s experience and ability to perform the essential functions of the job
  • The same set of pre-determined questions should be asked of each referee and are linked to the qualifications and key competencies of the particular position

Ask Questions and Probe Responses

  • Identify and use any verbal cues during the conversation for example, tone of voice, hesitation and inconsistencies
  • If the referee takes too much time or is hesitant when answering a question that should be straightforward, additional probing may be necessary
  • You will be speaking to several referees; be aware of inconsistent information provided or differing opinions of the candidate’s performance
  • Use open ended questions to allow for more than a one or two word response
  • Use probing to obtain justification for statements made by the referee, more detail or confirm information you already have or when the answer given is too vague for example:
    • What exactly did you mean by…?
    • What, specifically would they do next…?
    • Tell me more about …?
  • Ask questions to keep your referee on topic and to ensure the information they are providing is relevant for example:
    • Why do you say that?
    • What were you thinking about or referring to when you said…?
    • How is what you are saying related to what I asked?
  • Ask further questions or rephrase your question in order to obtain more detail, for example:
    • Is there anything further you can add?
    • How do you know that is true?
    • How does that compare with what you said before?
    • How did they …?


The pre-determined questions and the referee’s responses must be recorded and form part of the documentation retained by the Human Resources Division in the job competition file.

Please return all documentation to your Strategic Recruitment representative

Approved by

Human Resources

Date Approved

February 23, 2010

Related information

Employment References Policy
Employment References Procedural Guidelines