A job offer should always be made subject to appropriate references when you have decided to make one in your organization. Requesting references from those mentioned on the applicant’s application form should be your first order of business once you get it.
Before making an employment offer, you should NEVER contact a candidate’s previous employers for a list of references.
Even though you want to know as much as possible about your new employee, keep in mind that their former boss probably doesn’t have the time (or the desire) to write a long, detailed answer about someone who no longer works for them. So, be realistic about what you want to know.
Also See: Sample Anniversary Letter
Sample 1: Letter requesting a reference for a new employee
[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.