Over the next several posts we are going to discuss Background checks, Reference checks, and Recommendations. Do they really work, how best to do them, and what to do with the results. First we will look at the definition of all three.
Reference Check: Contacting previous employers of a job applicant to determine his or her job history. Reference check may also include checking with school(s) or college(s).
Background Check: The act of reviewing both confidential and public information to investigate a person or entity's history. Background checks are commonly performed by employers to ensure that: (1) an employee is who he or she says they are, (2) to determine that the individual does not have a damaging history (such as criminal activity) that may reflect poorly on the company, (3) to confirm information that an applicant included on their application for employment.
Recommendations: endorsement, an expression of praise, approval, or support for somebody or something
So as we can see each means something a little different but in the end they all provide pieces to the puzzle that is our candidate, and provide extra information to validate a hiring decision.
But again the key as with anything, they provide a PIECE, to the puzzle. Any questionable (negative) information found as a result of any of these checks, should be taken in context, and be validated before any final decision is made. Sometimes there are legitimate reasons for some of the things these checks come up with, both good and bad. Sometimes there is more to the story or things are not what they appear to be. So be sure if using anything you gleam from these checks that you have the whole story, you talk it over with HR and your legal department. Otherwise, you could do more harm than good.
Next, we will talk specifically about Reference checks.