Job applicants are expected to provide verifiable, truthful and accurate information when they apply for employment with a new company. In fact, most employment applications require that an applicant sign the application form to indicate that the information contained in the application is indeed truthful. Generally during the final stages of the selection process, a prospective employer verifies information the candidate has provided. A hiring decision may hinge on whether the candidate actually told the truth on her application or resume.
One of the most common reasons a prospective employer calls the candidate's former employer is to verify employment dates. They do this to ensure the information the candidate provided is truthful and accurate. Calls to verify employment dates are essential -- and, not just for verification that the candidate provided truthful information. Verifying the candidate's employment dates may also shed light on the candidate's skill level and expertise, depending on the length of time the candidate worked in the field.
During the recruitment and selection process, applicants may be asked to provide their salary history to a prospective employer. Job seekers are cautioned to be truthful in disclosing this information because it can be verified through a simple telephone call. When a prospective employer contacts a candidate's former employer, she generally has an amount she wants to verify. The candidate's former employer will, therefore, verify the salary information as truthful or not.
Many prospective employers will ask the candidate's former employer about rehire eligibility. The purpose of asking if the company would rehire the former employee is a way for a prospective employer to determine if the candidate left his previous jobs on good terms. While companies may not disclose why an employee was terminated or the reasons an employee gave for resigning from his job, a company is more likely to disclose whether a former employee is eligible for rehire.
Given the networks that exist among recruiters, hiring managers and human resources practitioners, it's possible that a prospective employer can discover just about any information it wants before extending an offer to a candidate. However, many employers strictly forbid giving information about a former employee's performance for fear they might be sued of libel. Texas, on the other hand, is a state that grants immunity to employers who give truthful information to prospective employers who call about a candidate they're going to hire. In Texas, an employer can disclose anything that's truthful about a former employee -- including the reason for which the employee was fired.
Purpose of References
Instead of jumping over hurdles to get an off-the-record verification of an employee's performance from the candidate's previous supervisor, candidates provide professional references who can vouch for their professional capabilities.
Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. In addition, she is a certified facilitator for the Center for Creative Leadership Benchmarks 360 Assessment Suite, and is a Logical Operations Modern Classroom Certified Trainer . Ruth resides in North Carolina and works from her office in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.