Anyone who’s hired anyone has been there. You have a stack of CVs on your desk (or in your inbox), you need someone ASAP, and this is all just taking you so much time. You just want to hire someone and be done with it.

It can be a big process to find the right person for your job and for your workplace, but what that really means is that you don’t want to be doing all this again in 2 months’ time. You want to know that these people are who they say they are and that they can do what they say they can do.

You need to do a background check.

It’s standard practice to ask for two or three referees before making a job offer to a candidate. You want to check both personal and professional integrity, consider asking for:

  • One referee who has worked directly with the applicant
  • One referee who managed the applicant
  • One referee who can vouch for personal integrity (in NZ it’s likely that one of the above options can also cover this)

You’re trying to find out if the applicant will be a good fit, not only for the role but within your team dynamic.

Checking referees is just the start, it’s the bare minimum you should do when looking to employ someone. You may find some red flags come up, or that you realise the work they did was not quite what you thought it was. You may simply find that you get to know more about how your candidate operates so you can manage them better.


There are other checks you’re able to do too. Criminal history, traffic offences, financial report, CV and education checks are among them.

If your new recruit is handling personal information or working with at-risk people it may be a good idea to check their criminal record to cover yourself. If they’ll be driving or using company vehicles it’s worth knowing if they’re generally safe drivers. Tertiary education providers will be able to tell you if someone has a degree from them.

You remember the story about the Maori Television Chief Executive who used an embellished CV to secure the role? Avoid the disappointment and PR disaster that a revelation like that would bring. Take the time to do the background checks that are fitting for the role, and save yourself the heartbreak of hiring the wrong person.

Good luck!