Checks you should make before hiring a person from whom you have no reference.

When you interview a job applicant, typically they’ll provide references from past jobs for you to check on. A person is expected to provide these past job references and explain any gaps in work history, for an employer to get a better picture of the candidate’s suitability.

However in some cases, you may be interviewing someone who does not have any references to provide. It may be a job for a young person and doesn’t require any previous work experience, or they claim to have been in business for themselves for some time. In other cases, corporations may have a “no reference” policy and refuse to give out information on past employees.

In any case you need a way of verifying some of the applicants information, so here are some useful things to check before hiring someone without any references.

If they have a criminal history

This is especially important for any positions of trust and responsibility. Criminal background checks are fairly easy to obtain and are a standard part of employee background checks, along with credit reports and social security validation.

However criminal background checks rely on name and date of birth, not social security number as many believe. For this reason it is easy for criminal history to slip through the cracks, using aliases and misspelling of names. A person may put “Bob” on their job application, but have been incarcerated under their full name “Robert”.

So for this reason private background check companies will, for example, check if someone is incarcerated in an NJ jail using aliases and spelling variations of a potential employee.

Ask for verifiable personal character references

A bit of extra consent from the applicant is necessary for conducting more thorough character references, but it can certainly help when the candidate is unable to provide professional references.

It’s important to be aware of the legality of more personal background checks. Once you start asking for personal character references, the background search may in fact become an investigative consumer report, which requires more transparent disclosure and separate permissions from the employee candidate beyond what a normal job eligibility background check would entail.

Character references should be from verifiable persons that held some position of authority or worked alongside the job candidate. This could include school teachers for a candidate of highschool age, or supervisors and past co-workers who are willing to give personal references.

Of course you don’t want a personal reference from the applicant’s desk buddy at their old job, so it’s better if the applicant can provide you with personal references from people who held some position of leadership above them.

Verify stories concerning gaps in work history

A person can have a perfectly valid reason for having gaps in work history. Perhaps they tried going into business for themselves, or took a year off to volunteer in the rainforest. Whatever the case, it’s good to verify these stories to make sure nothing is being hidden.

Some of this information may be easy to verify through public records and background check tools. For example, if an applicant claims to have run their own business for some time, you should be able to easily find publicly available records to verify the claim, such as through state databases of registered businesses.

If the applicant claims they completed a gap year for a volunteer program, they should surely be able to furnish recognition of their volunteering, such as a certificate for completed hours from the organization.

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