Step Nine: Candidate Assessment, Background Checks & Referencing


You think you have found the perfect candidate, but before you go any further, it is vital to check work- related references (if you haven’t done so already at an earlier stage of the process). As mentioned previously, some employers confirm candidate references before in-person interviews, but this is not the norm.

A reference from a friend or neighbour may have some relevance about a person’s character but the candidate must provide references from current or former managers to whom he or she directly reported (assuming they have work experience – if they don’t, references from teachers, volunteer associations and other sources will also be relevant). In all cases, you should have the candidate’s written permission to conduct these inquiries.

Verifying Employment, Educational and Professional Credentials

Verifying educational, professional or trade credentials will give you another piece of information to better evaluate candidates. Some trade and professional organizations provide public registries online whereby you can perform a simple search to validate the credentials of candidates [for example, the Chartered Professional Accountants (CPA) Association  of  Ontario].

Skills Assessments

In addition to a reference check it is also recommended that you include a skills assessment of your final candidates. This will give real-life dimension to the behavioural based interview questions you already asked earlier in the process. For example, if you’re hiring a welder, have them weld something (ensure you set up a safe work station with extra supervision and personal protective equipment). If you’re hiring an administrative assistant, set up a simple exercise to see if they can undertake a mail-merge in MS Word (there are also a wide variety of free online tools that measure typing speed and accuracy, for example). Do some research, or create your own workplace assessment. Just be mindful of safety considerations, and ensure it has a relevant and measurable connection to success on the job.

Aptitude & Interpersonal Assessments

There are a variety of cognitive ability assessments and other instruments available to evaluate candidate suitability. Many of them are now offered online. These companies represent that a predetermined profile can  be developed to correlate and predict a candidate’s success in a particular position.

Criminal Record Checks

In some cases employers implement credit and/or criminal background checks, particularly if the  incumbent will be interacting with vulnerable or disadvantaged groups, or handling large sums  of money. To obtain a criminal background check, you should establish that there is a valid occupational  reason for doing so. The job application and/or conditional offer must clearly state the check is necessary as part of the hiring process.

This project is funded in part by the Government of Ontario