If you request character references as part of your hiring or volunteer screening process, it's a good idea to use a form to collect information as an alternative to having candidates submit character reference letters. Rather than starting from a blank page, use the free printable form provided here as a starting point for creating a form that will meet your organization's needs.
Printable Character Reference Template
To access the form, simply click the image below. The form will open as a PDF document, either in a separate window or file (depending on your browser). If you need assistance working with the document, please use this guide to PDFs. Once the file is open, you will be able to edit it to suit your needs and use the toolbar commands to save or print as needed.
Customizing the Form
The questions included in this template are fairly standard for character reference forms, though it is editable. Simply click any of the highlighted areas to make changes.
There are a few areas that require input from you.
- There are blanks in the paragraphs at the top of the document where you will need to fill in details about your request, including the applicant's name, position sought, where to send the form and contact information, as well as any contact details the applicant has provided to you.
- It is also advisable to complete as much information about the person who is being asked to fill in the form as you have available to you. At a minimum, include his or her name.
- You will need to specify the traits you are interested in learning about (item 4), as this section definitely needs to be customized to your particular needs. You can add or delete lines using the '+' and '-' signs at the end of each row.
Sending the Form to References
Once you have edited the document to your liking, save it to use as needed. You can provide it to applicant's character references via mail, email or fax. You may also want to consider making applicants responsible for delivering the form to their references.
Regardless of how you distribute the form, be sure to ask that it be returned directly to you rather than being sent back with the applicant. People should be able to complete the document without concern that the person for whom they are providing a reference will see what they wrote.
Verifying the Information
Once you receive a completed form, it is a best practice to make contact with the person who provided the details to verify the information. This allows you to be sure that the person listed is actually the individual who filled out the form. It also presents an opportunity to ask follow-up questions if desired.
Keep in mind that it is critical for you to ensure that your candidate screening process is non-discriminatory. This includes being consistent in the way you request references, as well as every other aspect of the screening process. You shouldn't require more references from some candidates than others or pick and choose who has to provide this type of reference. Instead, be sure to treat everyone who is being considered the same way.