In order to ensure that your reference checks are compliant, you should first be sure that you have applicants’ consent before checking their references.

Here are some topics that employers can discuss with references:
  • The duties and responsibilities of the job
  • The organization’s mission, programs, and achievements
  • Career possibilities and opportunities for growth, development, and advancement
  • Where the job is located, travel, mobility, equipment, and facilities available
  • The individual’s qualifications, abilities, experience, education, and interests
  • What the person has done in previous job experience that makes them able to perform the job which they have applied
  • What job-related educational experience the applicant has that makes the individual a good candidate for the job
  • What problems the applicant had on previous jobs, what they liked or disliked
  • If a topic (disability, religion, race, etc.) is brought up by the candidate you can discuss it, but it is not to be used as a reason for non-hire

Any inquiry should be avoided that, although not specifically listed among the above, is designed to elicit information as to race, color, ancestry, age, sex, religion, disability, or arrest and court record unless based upon a bona fide occupational qualification.


CareerPlug does not offer legal advice and you should always consult with your legal counsel to ensure your hiring practices are in compliance with federal, state, and local laws.