Reference Check - Definition & Meaning

Published in Human Resources Terms by MBA Skool Team

What is Reference Check?

Reference check is a process of getting information about a person from his previous employers, his schools, college and other available sources. Through reference checks, the company confirms the information given by the individual during the job application, and the companies verifies information like education, work experience, family back ground, personal identification etc. This is usually done by the employer before hiring a job applicant.

Some of the main purposes of reference checks are:

1. To verify the correctness of the information provided by the applicant in the resumes, application forms and during interviews.

2. To check if the applicant has any criminal background or history.

3. To check if the applicant has right skill set for the job and if he fits well in the organization.

4. To identify any patterns (desirable or undesirable) of behavior of the applicant during his tenure with previous employer.

5. To identify the developmental needs and determine the appropriate initial training and development programs needed when the applicant is newly hired in the organization.

6. To know the applicant's previous behavior and to estimate success in his new job.

7. Reference checking is also done by the current employer when assigning a new project which deals with more sensitive information of the client, or when client mandates it. For Example: Bank related projects etc.


Generally, if the employer need a more detail reference check, this work is outsourced to professional organizations. Some employers will not provide all the information about their previous employee, they just provide information whether the person is their previous employee or not and information regarding their joining and leaving dates from the company.


Collection of private information may raise ethical and legal concerns. Employers should take necessary precautions before going for the reference check. Some of them would be as follows:

1. Prior permission should be taken from the applicant/employee for the purpose of reference checks.

2. Employers should limit their enquiries only to the job related information and ensure that all the questions are related to the conduct and previous job performance.

3. Casual conversation should be avoided as it can lead the discussions to prohibited areas. Better to keep questions ready before proceeding further.

Hence, this concludes the definition of Reference Check along with its overview.

This article has been researched & authored by the Business Concepts Team. It has been reviewed & published by the MBA Skool Team. The content on MBA Skool has been created for educational & academic purpose only.

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