Purpose of the reference

Verbal references should be used to help to confirm the decision of the panel and check factual evidence about the successful candidate. By confirming past performance it may also assist in assessing the candidate’s future performance and potential.

Whom to ask for a reference

One of the references should be from the current or most recent employer.

When to ask for a reference

References should normally be taken up after the interview process and only for the successful candidate(s).

Many candidates ask that referees, particularly their current employer, are not contacted until an offer is made. Before contacting referees ensure that you have the candidate’s consent to approach them.

Offer of employment

Any offer of employment must be subject to receipt of satisfactory references, one of which should be from the candidate’s current or most recent employer. No start date may be agreed prior to receipt of references. It is recognised that managers may wish to avoid the delay that may sometimes occur when waiting for a written reference and may choose to take a telephone reference in these circumstances.

Obtaining a verbal reference:

  • Ensure that you verify the identity of the referee by asking them to confirm their, name, job title and organisation.
  • Inform the referee that their reference will be treated confidentially unless they indicate that they wish it to be disclosed on request, or we obtain their explicit and written consent to disclose the reference, or we are obliged to disclose it by virtue of a statutory order.
  • The University’s standard Verbal reference form [docx] should be used as the basis of the discussion with the referee.
  • You should take full notes of the conversation.
  • A completed Verbal reference form [docx] must be signed, dated and returned to HR Services for each referee. Failure to return this information may delay the appointment process.

Unsatisfactory references

We have the right to withdraw a conditional offer of employment if the references are unsatisfactory, or if we are unable to obtain a reference without good reason. If you receive an unsatisfactory reference you should contact your HR Manager for further advice.


Verbal reference form [docx]

Document control

  • Last reviewed: 31 July 2007