Referee Checks. An Essential Step in the Hiring Process.

Question mark - Agribusiness Recruiting - Agricultural Appointments

It is widely accepted that the best predictor of future performance is past performance. Accordingly, reference checking is one of the most critical phases of the hiring process.

Here are some tips to ensure that referee checks maximise your chance of identifying and placing the candidate who is the best fit for the role.

Identifying appropriate referees. When asking a candidate for their referees ensure that they are relevant. Ideally a referee should be a previous supervisor to which the candidate has answered directly to. In some instances a candidate will nominate a work colleague rather than a supervisor. In such cases make sure before accepting them that there is a valid reason for doing so such as a  supervisor’s contact details being unavailable. Avoid contacting referees which you suspect are as a result of a workplace friendship as they will be unlikely to provide an unbiased view of a person’s capability or performance.

Referees from the most recent positions held will be more relevant than those associated with roles in the more distant past. Also try to choose supervisors from similar roles to the vacancy being filled. This will enable you to evaluate skills and performance which are directly relevant to the job at hand.

Beware of the candidate failing to nominate a referee from an important recent position or one in which they worked over an extended period. Under such circumstances make sure there is a valid reason.

Contacting the Referee.

It is important that you seek and are granted permission from the candidate prior to contacting a referee. When contacting the referee introduce yourself briefly and explain the reason for your call. Ensure that the referee has enough time to answer your questions, otherwise ask them to nominate a more convenient day and time.

Questions should be Inciteful. Ask questions which will maximise your knowledge about the candidate’s ability to perform in the vacant position based on their performance in the role they previously held. Questions should identify skill capability in areas relevant to the vacancy such as:-

Interpersonal skills, leadership, communication skills, problem solving capability, influencing skills, project management, technical knowledge, conflict resolution, working in a team etc.

Encourage the referee to provide actual examples which demonstrate good or poor performance or high or low capability.

Police Checks

In roles where high trust is essential a police check is well worth considering to ensure that no criminal history is associated with the candidate. Such checks are inexpensive but require approval by the candidate.

Contact Agricultural Appointments on 02 9223 9944 or at for more information on how to maximise the value from referee checks.

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Belinda Chung - Agribusiness Recruiting - Agricultural Appointments


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