Recruitment Advice for Conducting Reference Checks in Alberta

  • Recruitment/HR
Kiran Virk

Kiran Virk, Head of Talent Acquisition

(Last updated )

Reference checks are a key component of the hiring process; they help employers get insights on whether the individual has the right qualifications, necessary skillset, and determine if they are legally eligible for the position. This article covers what Alberta employers should know about integrating reference checks into their hiring process.  

What is a reference check? 

A reference check is the collection of employment-related information, on a person’s past work experience and performance. This information is typically received by calling or providing a document to complete, to prior managers or people with direct knowledge of the person’s current or previous work positions. Reference checks should be used to verify information gathered through phone or in-person interviews.  

Reference checks can be conducted for a variety of reasons, depending on the job position being applied to. The following are different areas that reference checks can apply: 

  • Criminal records             
  • Driver abstracts 
  • Education 
  • Former employment 
  • Professional license verification and certifications 

What are examples of relevant questions to ask in a reference check? 

Asking the right questions is essential to forming an accurate opinion of a candidate. The following are examples of good reference questions for gaining insights on a potential candidate: 

  • Would you rehire this individual? 
  • What are the individual’s greatest strengths? 
  • How did you and this individual work together? 
  • Did this individual receive any promotions while working for you? 
  • This position requires an individual that can ________________ [fill in essential skills]. How would you rate this individual in each of these areas and why? 

Create a policy for reference/background checks in your business 

A clear reference check policy in place, ensures reference checks are conducted appropriately. These policies specify the individuals that should be involved in conducting the reference checks, best practices for conducting reference checks, and how to stay in compliance with laws on reference checks.  

Here are practical tips for implementing a reference check policy in your organization: 

  • Confirm a minimum of three employment references are given and checked; 
  • Complete a background check after a conditional offer of employment has been offered; 
  • Ensure educational qualifications are checked; and 
  • Check criminal records, credit checks and driver abstracts if they are job-related. 

Still have questions on reference checks in your company? 

For guidance in creating a reference check policy in your organization or to have your questions on reference checks answered, speak with our HR experts! We will assist you in determining the best reference questions for your specific hiring needs. To learn more about your employer obligations today call: 1 (833) 247-3652. 

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