Reference checks: legal under certain conditions
Reference checks, a common practice, consist in contacting ex-employers or managers. They are carried out by the recruitment agency or by the hiring company directly.
In addition to a recruitment interview, personality tests, and tests on technical skills, they allow us to check the information we have and to gain additional information.
The first condition to carrying out reference checks is to ask the candidate’s express consent, according to the Code du Travail (French labour code). And this, even if said candidate has included the reference checks in their application file or on a professional social network.
The information obtained must also be objective, such as the length and nature of their last contracts, the position the candidate held, the type of tasks carried out within the company, key performance indicators…
All information collected must have a link to the job opportunity and must not be linked to the candidate’s private life (cf. job interview), and must not be subjective: the quality of their work, their attitude, their personality…
Job interview: Not all questions should be asked or researched
Certain criteria must not be taken into account during the process of evaluation of a candidate or their interviews:
- Origins: neither geographical nor ethnical
- Family situation: large families
- Physical appearance: ugliness, short stature, obesity
- Surname: foreign-sounding
- Current address
- Level of health
- Genetic characteristics
- Customs and traditions
- Sexual orientation
- Sexual identity
- Political opinions
- Union activity
- Actual or assumed affiliation, or non-affiliation, with a specific ethnic group, race or nation
- Actual or assumed affiliation, or non-affiliation, with a specific religion
Questions dealing with these criteria are therefore quite naturally to be avoided.