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Guide
8 min read

How to Handle Negative References During the Hiring Process

Negative references can impact the hiring process, but with the right approach, the hiring team can make a well-informed decision. By understanding the legal considerations, asking open-ended questions, and factoring in the full picture, the team can make a hiring decision that is suitable for the job.

Finding the right candidate for a job can be a difficult process. It can take months of searching and interviewing to find the perfect candidate. One important step of the hiring process is running a background check and reference check on a potential hire. Unfortunately, this process can sometimes reveal a few negative references that can impact the hiring decision.

If you receive a negative reference during the hiring process, it's important to handle the situation carefully and thoughtfully. Here are some steps you can take:


Keep an open mind:

Review the candidate’s original application and note any discrepancies between their application and the references. If a reference gives a negative view of the candidate, it’s important to understand the details of the reference and the context of the negative feedback.

It's important to remember that a negative reference doesn't necessarily mean that a candidate is not a good fit for the role. Consider the context of the reference and try to gather as much information as possible to get a complete picture of the candidate's skills and experience.


Follow up with the candidate: 

If you receive a negative reference, it's a good idea to speak with the candidate about the feedback you received. This can give the candidate an opportunity to provide additional context or explain any issues that may have arisen in the past.

Be sure to ask the candidate open-ended questions to hear their side of the story and give them a chance to explain any discrepancies. Ask the candidate to provide any documents or references that speak to their work experience, so that you can make an informed decision.


Consider alternative references:

If you are concerned about the negative reference, you may want to consider speaking with additional references to get a more well-rounded view of the candidate. This could include personal references or references from previous roles. This will give the hiring team more information from a variety of sources. It is also important to remember that references can be biased, so make sure to get the full story before making a final hiring decision.


Acknowledge the full picture to make an informed decision: 

After considering all the information you have gathered, it’s important to acknowledge the full picture when evaluating a candidate. Keep in mind that a negative reference may not necessarily disqualify a candidate, but it's important to weigh all the information you have gathered carefully before making a final decision.

If the negative references are minor and the candidate’s job qualifications and skills are suitable for the position, then consider overlooking the references. If the references are serious and impact the candidate’s ability to do the job, then the hiring team may choose to pass on the candidate.



Overall, negative references can impact the hiring process, but with the right approach, the hiring team can make a well-informed decision. By understanding the legal considerations, asking open-ended questions, and factoring in the full picture, the team can make a hiring decision that is suitable for the job.


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https://www.refhub.com.au/post/how-to-handle-negative-references-during-the-hiring-process
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