Reference Check Guidelines


Conducting reference checks is a crucial step in the recruitment process. A job offer should never be extended without checking the finalist’s references. Reference checks provide insight into a candidate’s past performance, which is a strong indicator of future success. Additionally, they help ensure better job matches and protect the investment made in a new hire.

General Guidelines

At the University of Florida, reference checks are mandatory for all recruiting efforts, whether the candidate is an external applicant or an internal university employee. Given that one-third of resumes and applications contain falsehoods, reference checking is essential to verify the accuracy of the provided information.

Follow these general guidelines for all reference checks:

  • References should confirm information from the application, resume, and candidate’s interview.
  • Treat all candidates fairly and consistently.
  • Request only relevant information related to the candidate’s skills and qualifications for the vacancy.
  • Disregard information that the provider lacks first-hand knowledge of or is unrelated to the candidate’s skills or performance.
  • Protect the confidentiality of the recruitment process and applicants’ privacy. Keep all information confidential.
  • Exercise caution when evaluating “off the record” comments.
  • Maintain documentation of your recruitment efforts for three years, including interview and reference check notes.

Number of Reference Checks

It’s recommended to check three references for each finalist, including current and past employers and professional references. Multiple references help identify consistency and patterns in comments about the finalist. The number of reference checks should match the years of experience required for the position.

Consent for Reference Checks

The candidate’s written authorization in the employment application serves as consent. Also, the list of provided references constitutes consent. It’s advisable to inform the candidate before contacting their references, especially when reaching out to their current employer, as it may affect their current position.

Performing Reference Checks and Experience Verification

Prior to extending a job offer, the hiring department should verify that the final candidate meets the minimum experience required for the position by checking references.

Experience Verification

Candidates are considered qualified based on their resume information. Verification of education and experience typically occurs after identifying finalists for specific vacancies. Talent Acquisition & Onboarding handles educational credentials and criminal background checks, but the department is responsible for verifying work experience through reference checks.

Experience Verification Form and Calculator

Use the worksheet to calculate work experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you have questions, here are some answers to FAQs.

  • Is basic reference information useful?
    • Yes, basic reference checks confirm essential details like dates of employment, job title, pay, and rehire eligibility. While evaluative information is ideal, basic confirmation is valuable.
  • Do I need to check references if I know the candidate personally?
    • Yes, reference checks are necessary for all candidates, regardless of personal acquaintance or coworker familiarity.
  • If I receive a negative evaluation, should I disqualify the candidate?
    • No, negative comments should be carefully considered. Ask for specific examples and check additional references for a comprehensive view.
  • Can I contact the candidate’s current UF supervisor?
    • Yes, contact the current UF supervisor for valuable insights. Inform the candidate if you plan to do so.
  • Do I need to verify education as well as experience?
    • No, Talent Acquisition & Onboarding verifies education. Forward any provided educational documents to the Core HR recruiter.
  • What questions are illegal?
    • Ask objective questions directly related to job performance and duties. Avoid discriminatory questions.
  • With whom should I share reference information?
    • Keep reference information confidential, accessible only to relevant parties in the recruitment and hiring process.
  • Does the law protect employers who provide references?
    • Yes, employers disclosing information to prospective employers are immune from civil liability, per Section 768.095, Florida Statutes.
  • What is “defamation of character?”
    • Defamation is false, injurious communication about an employee. Employers should provide truthful reference information without malicious intent or discrimination.
  • Isn’t it almost impossible to get a bad reference due to liability concerns?
    • It’s still possible to obtain less positive information. Evaluate comments in relation to the qualities and skills you seek.
  • What is “negligent hiring?”
    • Negligent hiring is the failure to adequately check references or gather relevant information about a hired candidate. Reference checks are crucial to prevent repeated negative behavior.