Episode #013 – Reference (and background) checking – why you absolutely must see it as an investment rather than a cost

  •  why you should do it – even when you think you can’t spare the time, 
  • what questions to ask, 
  • what answers might raise some red flags, 
  • what to do with those red flags, and
  • what you can and cannot do in relation to reference checking and NZ law

In Godzone Aotearoa New Zealand there are some things you absolutely cannot do in relation to reference checking potential new recruits and things you absolutely must do.   

Reference checking is protected and/or governed by three different Acts of Parliament:

  • the Employment Relations Act 2000,
  • the Human Rights Act 1993, and
  • the Privacy Act 2020 

 We’ll take an in depth look at the 9 reference check questions I always ask every referee so you can understand what types of answers or responses raise red flags and then how to handle those.  

You’ll understand why I ask the questions I do and how to accuracy-check some of the answers you might be given from referees.   

You’ll also understand why a ‘no’ to the question “would you hire this person again” might not be the deal breaker you expect it would be.

We’ll also quickly look at some reference checking that’s fallen foul of the law and ended up in court.

Choosing Referees:

  1. Immediate / Direct-report manager
  2. Choose wisely
  3. Let your referees know what you’re doing / what you’re up to 
  4. Ask them first
  5. Mutual trust

Case Studies:

  1. an inaccurate reference
  2. supposed breach of privacy
  3. lying on job application


  1. background & reference checking is essential
  2. choose referees wisely
  3. respect & protect people’s privacy
  4. ask for only what you need & nothing else
  5. ask the right questions 
  6. reference check every new hire – regardless of the job / position / duration
  7. reputations at stake
  8. outsource if necessary


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