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0112 - Conducting Reference Checks

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  1. Once the Selection Committee chooses a likely appointee through the interview process, references are checked to validate, clarify or add to information that has already been gathered.



  1. Competition File is the official record of the competition containing all documents required by policies and guidelines.
  2. Human Resources Representative means those employees of the Department of Human Resources designated to co-ordinate and/or participate in the recruitment process.
  3. Selection Committee includes, but is not necessarily restricted to, a Human Resources Representative, the supervisor of the position being filled and where appropriate, a technical member or community representative.
  4. Personnel File is the official record containing personal information, on each employee, held by the Department of Human Resources.



  1. Where the Human Resource Representative conducting the reference check is not on the Selection Committee, he/she will confirm any specific areas or concerns that need to be addressed with the Selection Committee.  The Human Resources Representative or supervisor shall conduct the reference checks.  Additional members of the Selection Committee may also participate particularly if some of the information is very technical in nature.  The hiring supervisor makes the final decision as to who is best to conduct reference checks.
  2. All candidates receiving an interview shall provide permission to the Human Resources Representative to contact supervisory references, one of which shall be the candidate’s most recent direct supervisor.  The Human Resources Representative may use a Reference Check Authorization Form (attachment A) to obtain written authorization to contact each reference.
  3. Candidates who do not grant permission to contact their most recent direct supervisor(s) are deemed to have withdrawn from the competition.
  4. Other reference types, such as clients, may be considered if a former direct supervisor has not had contact with the candidate in many years and is not able to verify the candidate’s knowledge, skills and abilities as they relate to the position being staffed.
  5. A supervisory reference’s superior may be permitted as a reference only if that individual is familiar with the candidate’s knowledge, skills and ability.
  6. Selection Committee members may be used as a reference if they are a current or recent direct supervisor of the candidate.
  7. Reference checks shall be conducted either in person or by phone.
  8. References are checked starting with the most recent.  The exception to this would be when the candidate asks that the current supervisor be the final person contacted.
  9. Details of reference checks shall be kept strictly confidential.
  10. Job offers shall be contingent upon receipt of two positive references.
  11. References shall be asked questions that are relevant to the knowledge, skills and abilities as demonstrated through the candidate’s actions or behaviours during previous work-related activities.
  12. The Human Resources Representative may ask the proposed appointee to provide additional references if concerns are identified during the initial checks.
  13. The Human Resources Representative may review the personnel file of a candidate who is a current or former GNWT employee if an issue is raised during the reference check.  Performance appraisals should only be used to support information gathered from other sources, such as reference checking, and should not be the only source of information about past work performance.
  14. If at any time during the competition, the Human Resources Representative determines that a candidate intentionally misrepresents any part of their qualifications or work experience, they are immediately eliminated from the competition.
  15. Reference check results, where the previous position applied on is similar in nature to the current position, will stand for a period of six months. Where an applicant is known to have applied on a similar position within the previous six months, reference checks completed for the old competition will be opened and reviewed by the current selection committee and applied to determine suitability for the current competition.



  1. The Selection Committee identifies the proposed appointee through the interview process.  Following this, the hiring manager determines who will perform the reference check.
  2. The proposed appointee grants permission to contact supervisory references specifying the name, organization, contact number and their relationship to each reference.
  3. The Human Resources Representative or hiring manager reviews the reference check guide, interview responses and resume of the proposed appointee to determine what information to verify during the reference checks.
  4. The Human Resources Representative or hiring manager contacts the references either in person or by phone starting with the candidate’s most recent direct supervisor.
  5. The Human Resources Representative or hiring manager briefly describes the position for which the candidate is being considered.
  6. Using the Reference Check Guide (attachment B), the Human Resources Representative records feedback provided by each reference including an assessment of the candidate’s knowledge, skills and abilities as they relate to the position being filled.
  7. Upon completion of the reference check, the Human Resources Representative thanks the reference and provides him/her with contact information in the event that they have something additional to provide.
  8. The Human Resources Representative documents areas of concern and describes how they relate to the candidate’s ability to perform in the position being filled.
  9. The Human Resources Representative may skip further reference checks if two positive references are obtained; however, further references may be required if the Human Resources Representative is unable to assess particular qualifications or require clarification in case of conflicting information.
  10. The findings of all reference checks are reviewed with the Supervisor of the position being staffed.
  11. All records of completed reference checks are sealed in an envelope that is marked as follows:
    1. “Personal and Confidential “;
    2. Appointee’s first and last name;
    3. Competition title;
    4. Position Number; and
    5. Date.
  12. The sealed envelope containing the reference check materials of the successful appointee is placed in the appointee’s personnel file.
  13. The sealed envelopes containing the reference check materials of other candidates are retained in the competition file in a sealed envelope marked personal and confidential. These reference checks may only be opened when the applicant applies on a similar position within six months, and puts forward the same referees as their references.


Authorities and References

Canadian Charter of Rights of Freedoms

Public Service Act

UNW Collective Agreement