There’s plenty of advice available on what your rights are as a referee and what your rights are as a jobseeker, but it’s harder to find tips on how best to request a reference as a potential employer.

So, what best practice should you follow when recruiting new hires? How can you ensure you gain relevant insights into the candidate? The following three considerations will help ensure that when you’re requesting references, they provide you with a valuable level of understanding about your candidate.


  1. Who you need references from

Generally, the advice is to ask for two references, but do you need to be more specific than that?

For example, if you’re recruiting for a Play Worker role, do you need a reference from a current employer but also from an employer with whom the candidate worked with children? Consider sending personalised emails to each referee, tailored to the insights you’re looking to gain.

Asking specific, relevant questions will give you a better idea of how the candidate has performed in similar roles previously, and will support any details of the experience they listed in their CV.

Keep in mind that employers don’t usually have to provide a reference (unless in a regulated industry like financial services). So, if you want to receive valuable responses from referees, make it easy and clear for them to do so by keeping your questions concise and easy for the referee to validate their answers.

  1. What you need to know about your candidate

In a similar vein, it can be beneficial to send tailored emails to different referees depending on their connection with the candidate.

For example, you may wish to ask a candidate’s current employer whether there are any formal disciplinary warnings against them, whilst asking a personal referee whether they have a friendly nature and are good at time-keeping.

Make the most of the knowledge a candidate’s referees will have of them and utilise this to create a clearer picture of their work ethic, experience and whether they will be a good cultural fit for your workplace. Make sure the questions you are asking are relevant to the role and warrant a factual answer that the referee can validate.

  1. How a reference will fit into your recruitment process as a whole

Of course, you may also want to give the candidate the opportunity to discuss anything provided by their referee before you make a decision about them – you could therefore consider asking for a reference before their interview.

Or, your hiring process might involve a two-step interview process, and you would like to meet the candidate and develop your perception of them before a reference informs your opinion. So, ask for a reference before the second interview but not before the first.

Alternatively, you don’t want the reference to inform your opinion at all but require one for background information. You might therefore consider only asking for a reference once an offer has been made to a candidate.

Bear in mind that regardless of where in the recruitment process you wish to obtain a reference, you must obtain the candidate’s permission to request and process personal data; this will ensure that you do not fall foul of your data protection obligations.

Tailoring your requests for references ensures you get the insights you need, when you need them – ultimately meaning a more informed decision when choosing your hire.

But, tailoring your requests for references for different jobs, different referee types and different recruitment processes potentially means a lot more admin.

Hireserve ATS’ new Automated Reference Requests feature does exactly what its name implies – it allows you to automate the process of requesting references, regardless of how bespoke each process requires it to be. As Jeremy, Founder and Director of Hireserve, explains:

“We’ve built the new automated reference request feature to be as agile as possible. The tool is based on simple automation rules, but there is virtually no limit to how, when or why you apply those rules for different roles, referees and process.” – Jeremy Ovenden

In summary, the new Hireserve ATS automated reference request feature enables you to:

– Send different emails to different referee types

– Request references at different stages for different jobs

– Override a candidate’s ‘not to be contacted before interview’ preference if your process requires it

– Trigger manual reference requests

This means you can gain detailed, relevant insights into each potential hire, without spending valuable time writing and sending individual emails.

To find out more about the new automated reference requests feature in Hireserve ATS, get in touch with us today for a no-obligation chat with a member of our team.