Employment Reference Checks and Skill Proficiency Testing

Summary of Policy

Outlines reference check and proficiency testing procedures, which apply to all final candidates under consideration for full-time and part-time non-academic positions.

Affected Parties

All Groups

Policy Statement

Dartmouth College
Employment Policies and Procedures

The reference check and proficiency testing procedures outlined in this policy apply to all final candidates under consideration for full-time and part-time non-academic positions. Reference checking procedures for faculty or non-faculty academic appointments are handled by the appropriate dean's office for such appointments.



Hiring departments are responsible for ensuring that a candidate has the appropriate skills and competencies required for the position by verifying the candidate's skills and performance through the interview and hiring process, and by checking employment references with those most familiar with a candidate's work, including current and previous supervisors. Reference checks are conducted to determine whether a candidate's experiences fulfill the position requirements, to obtain specific job-related information, and to verify the accuracy of information about a candidate's background. Reference checks provide invaluable information to hiring managers prior to making an employment offer.  To support honest, candid, and constructive feedback, the reference check results will not be shared with the candidate.  Reference checking should not begin until a candidate has been interviewed and identified as one of the final candidates for the position.

Reference checks must be completed for all final candidates under consideration for regular staff full-time and part-time positions. It is also strongly preferred and recommended for temporary staff final candidates.


Dartmouth's staff reference checks are first conducted at a hiring manager's request by Talent Acquisition through SkillSurvey, an automated referencing process. Hiring managers are also expected to supplement the initial SkillSurvey reference check results for a final candidate with additional inquiries of current and previous supervisors. All reference checks must be completed prior to issuing an offer of employment and initiating a background check.  If requested by a final candidate, the reference check with the candidate's current supervisor may be deferred until after a conditional offer of employment has been extended.

If a final candidate is a current or previous Dartmouth employee, the hiring manager must speak with the candidate's current or most-recent Dartmouth supervisor prior to making an offer of employment. If the candidate's current or most-recent Dartmouth supervisor is unavailable, the hiring manager should contact their Talent Acquisition Consultant for assistance in determining the appropriate alternate contact.


Some positions may require candidates to demonstrate position-specific competencies through standardized testing for a particular skill. All proficiency testing requirements of final candidates must be reviewed by Talent Acquisition to ensure adherence to federal and state laws and regulations. Any requirement for proficiency testing must be indicated in the initial job posting under "Special Instructions to Applicants". If one candidate is tested, then all candidates under consideration as finalists for that position must be tested on a consistent and nondiscriminatory basis.  An otherwise qualified finalist must be given the opportunity to request appropriate accommodations for any proficiency testing.


Information gathered through reference checks and/or proficiency testing will be used solely for the purpose of evaluating a final candidate's suitability for employment and will not be used to discriminate against a finalist on the basis of personal characteristics protected by law and Dartmouth policy.  Dartmouth's Nondiscrimination Policy is found at https://policies.dartmouth.edu/policy/provisional-nondiscrimination-and-anti-harassment-policy-and-resolution-procedure


Policy ID


Effective Date

October 31, 2018

Last Revised Date

October 31, 2018


Office of the President

Office of Primary Responsibility

Office of Human Resources (HR)

Last Reviewed Date

October 31, 2019

Next Review Date