Should I Ask My Candidate For References?

Bad hires are costly for your organization in terms of money, time, resources and decreased team morale. One of the best ways to hedge against a bad hire comes in the form of a step that is often glossed over: reference checks. Many companies consider employment verification a reference check, but it’s important to collect strong references and invest time in asking insightful questions about the candidate. Reference checks on candidates provide you the opportunity to verify claims of achievement and further assess cultural alignment. So, you should always ask your final candidates for references.  

When To Ask A Candidate For References  

You should request references during the offer stage. Asking for them during the application stage puts potential candidates in awkward situations and may deter people from completing the application. If you ask for references as part of your initial job application, change that step, as it could increase your ability to recruit A-level candidates who are currently employed but don’t want to alert their employer that they are looking for new opportunities.  

How To Ask A Candidate For References  

It is appropriate to request two to three contacts for whom the candidate has worked for in the last five years. Anything beyond that may not be accurate. Do not push candidates to provide the name of their current supervisor, as this can put employed candidates in a sticky situation and may turn them off from pursuing the role further.  

You can ask for references via email but be clear on exactly what you need from the candidate to avoid potential back-and-forth correspondence that can drag out the hiring timeline. Ask for: 

  • Full name and job title of the reference 
  • Necessary contact information for the reference 
  • Specific relationships or managerial levels if required (i.e., direct supervisors, managers, team leads, peers, etc.)  
  • Ask for at least one more reference than you need in case someone is difficult to pin down. 

You can use this template as a guide for requesting references from candidates:  

Subject: Reference Request for [job title of role to be filled] at [company name] 

Dear [Candidate Name], 

Thank you for taking the time to talk to us about the [job title] position with [company name]. We enjoyed getting to know you and we’d like to move you to the [next/final] stage of the hiring process.  

At this time, please provide me with [number] references. Please include names, job title reporting relationship, phone number and email address of each reference.  

To remain in consideration, please send me this information by [day and date].  

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. 


[Your name] 

Are You Ready To Improve Your Hiring Process? 

If you are looking for highly aligned, hardworking sales and marketing talent for your ag business, contact the agricultural industry staffing experts at Morris Bixby Group. Our proven strategies for success can help you achieve your recruiting and retention goals. 



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *