Reference and Background Checks

Reference Checks

Reference checks are important in making a final decision, but can be troublesome if not done correctly. A consistent and equitable process should be used for all reference checks. The committee may request professional and/or personal references. The advertisement must state whether letters of reference or contact information for references are preferred. 

Letters of reference should be sent directly to the chair. Personal reference letters from individuals should not carry equal weight as letters from professional peers. It is important that recommendations be read carefully, as some may appear to be glowing recommendations, but contain hidden concerns. 

If a reference is contacted by written correspondence, include a copy of the position description and the “Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action Statement” (This Statement can be found in the Appendix) along with questions from the committee. The correspondence should also include a strong statement emphasizing confidentiality. 

The hiring official/search committee may prefer telephone interviews with the references as they can be a valuable way to gather information. Specific job-related questions should be developed for the telephone interviews and asked of all references for each candidate. If it is impermissible to ask a question of the candidate, the same is true for references. Notes should be taken during the phone conversation and be included in the candidate’s search file. 

If the committee decides to contact other individuals about a candidate’s qualifications, the candidate should be informed prior to contacting the individuals. Occasionally, search committee members will receive unsolicited calls about a candidate.  When this occurs, request the caller restrict his/her remarks to job-related issues. The committee is to keep records of all individuals who have provided information about a candidate.

Background Checks

Effective July 1st, 2010, the University-wide Administrative Memorandum 470.1, Policy on Background Checks and Use of Criminal Record, Financial, and Substance Abuse-Testing Information in Employment Decisions will be implemented. In response to the memorandum, Fayetteville Policy and Procedure 402.1, Background Check and Substance Abuse have been developed. 

Review the University-wide Administrative Memorandum 470.1 (begins on page 9) and the Fayetteville Policy and Procedure 402.1, Background Check and Substance Abuse policies to determine if a position requires any check or test.