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Previous and current employers can often provide information about an applicant's employment background that will aid you in making a decision about your current job opening. The Telephone Reference Check form will help you when conducting these checks. Should you have any questions or need assistance in the reference check process please contact your Recruitment Specialist.

Checking References

How many references are needed?

Policy 1320-Providing and Obtaining Employment Reference Information requires that at least three job-related references must be completed for the final candidate before any employment offer is made. All rehired employees with a break in service of more than one year are required to have one reference completed prior to being rehired. This reference may be provided by a former JMU supervisor who is familiar with the employee’s work performance. Re-hired employees with a break in service of less than one year will also be required to have one reference completed if no references are on file.

Who should I call?

A reference from a current supervisor and at least one former supervisor should be obtained on the final candidate(s) being considered for the position. However, you can only contact the current supervisor if the candidate has given you permission. This can be indicated in the applicant’s JMU JobLink application or by written permission from the applicant (see Release of Information). Be sure to ask each reference the same questions.

What can the reference tell me?

It is illegal for a former employer to purposefully give false information for the sake of harming one's reputation or preventing one from obtaining employment. In addition, personal information that is not job related should neither be asked about nor provided by either a prospective or former employer.

What can I ask?

In general, it is inappropriate for a prospective employer to ask questions of a former employer to provide information about an individual's age, color, disability, genetic information, national origin, parental status, political affiliation, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation or veteran status.  Do not discuss anything with references that you could not discuss with the applicants themselves.

The reference check should attempt to obtain the following information:

  • Name

  • Employment date

  • Position title

  • Position duties

  • Beginning and ending salaries

  • Training completed

  • Job performance, including performance strengths and weaknesses

  • Whether the employer would rehire the applicant

  • Verification of any required license, certification or degree

  • Reason(s) for the candidate leaving his/her current position

Am I required to allow the applicants to examine the data?

Information obtained during the reference check process is confidential. According to the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (Code of Virginia, 2.2 - 3800), agencies are not required to share this information with the applicant. All materials related to reference checks should be sent to Human Resources (MSC 7009) where they will be maintained for the appropriate amount of time. Refer to Policy 1109-Records Management.

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