References should not be obtained until after a selection decision has been reached. This is to ensure that the selection decision is based strictly on objective criteria and is not influenced by other factors, such as potentially subjective judgments about a candidate by referees. It is also good practice to send a referee copies of the job description and person specification, requesting evidence of the applicant’s ability to meet the specific requirements of the job.
The information requested in a reference can vary. It is common to ask for information such as the applicant’s dates of employment, current role and past roles, salary and disciplinary record. However, employers may be unwilling to give all of this information and some will have a policy of only confirming factual information such as dates of employment and role.
References should always be obtained from the candidate’s current employer. Where a candidate is not currently employed, verification of their most recent period of employment and reasons for leaving should be obtained from the school, college, local authority or organisation at which they were employed.
Any information about past disciplinary action or allegations that are disclosed should be considered carefully when assessing the applicant’s suitability for the post.
For full guidance on receiving references, see:
REC4: Guidance: providing and receiving employment references.
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