When you have made the decision to offer someone a job in your company you should always make the offer ‘subject to satisfactory references.’ You should then immediately contact the people listed by the applicant in their job application form to request a reference.
You should NEVER request references before offering someone a job without their express permisssion.
Although you want as much information as possible about your new employee, remember that their previous employer has very little time (and inclination) to write a long and detailed reply about someone who no longer works for them, so be realistic about what you want to know.
Letter requesting a reference for a new employee – Sample 1
[Name of referee]
Dear [Name of referee],
Your name was given to us by your previous employee [applicant’s name] as a potential referee for them. We have offered them the position of [position] with our [company / business / firm] and we would very much appreciate your opinion of their suitability for this position.
We particularly require someone with [name the most important attributes for the job – good interpersonal skills, exceptional writing ability, design flair, ability to stay calm in a crisis etc].
Please give us your frank and honest opinion about this person and we can assure you that any information you give will be treated confidentially.
We would appreciate a response at your earliest convenience.
[You could mention here that you would be happy to have a telephone reference as an alternative, for speed, but remember that you won’t then have anything for your written records. If this doesn’t matter then write ]
We would be happy to take a reference by telephone if this works better for you. My number is 01234 567890, ext 234 and I am available every morning between 8.30am and 12.30pm.
Thank you for your cooperation and time.