Checking references is a crucial step in the hiring process, providing valuable insights into a candidate's qualifications, work ethic, and cultural fit. While traditional reference checks often involve phone calls, email has become a popular and efficient method for gathering reference information. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the best practices for conducting reference checks via email, the benefits of this approach, and how to structure your emails for maximum effectiveness.

The Benefits of Email Reference Checks

Conducting reference checks via email offers several advantages:

Efficiency: Email reference checks allow you to gather information at your convenience without the need for coordinating schedules or playing phone tag.

Documentation: Emails provide a written record of the reference responses, making it easier to review and compare information later in the hiring process.

Thoughtful Responses: Candidates and references have time to craft well-thought-out responses, resulting in more detailed and meaningful feedback.

Reference Diversity: Email reference checks enable you to reach out to references in different time zones or locations, increasing the likelihood of receiving a broader range of perspectives.

Best Practices for Conducting Email Reference Checks

Follow these best practices to ensure effective and professional email reference checks:

Introduce Yourself: Begin the email by introducing yourself and explaining your role in the hiring process. This establishes credibility and provides context for the reference.

State the Purpose: Clearly communicate the purpose of the email, explaining that you are conducting a reference check to gather additional insights about the candidate.

Ask Specific Questions: Prepare a set of specific questions tailored to the candidate and the role they are being considered for. These questions should focus on areas such as the candidate's skills, work ethic, teamwork abilities, and any potential areas for development.

Provide Clear Instructions: Clearly outline the preferred method of response, whether it's replying directly to the email or using a reference checking platform. Include any necessary deadlines and contact information for follow-up.

Express Gratitude: Close the email by expressing your appreciation for the reference's time and assistance. Let them know that their feedback is valuable and will contribute to the hiring decision.

Email Reference Check Template

Here's a sample template you can use as a starting point for your email reference checks:

Dear [Reference's Name],

I hope this email finds you well. My name is [Your Name], and I am [Your Position] at [Your Company]. We are currently in the process of considering [Candidate's Name] for a [Job Title] role within our organization.

We believe that your insights and experience could provide valuable information to aid in our decision-making process. We would greatly appreciate it if you could take a few moments to answer a few questions regarding [Candidate's Name]'s qualifications and suitability for this position.

Please find the questions below:

How would you rate [Candidate's Name]'s technical skills and proficiency in [relevant skills]?

Can you comment on their ability to work in a team and collaborate effectively?

What were [Candidate's Name]'s major contributions and achievements during their time at [Previous Company/Organization]?

Were there any areas for improvement or development that you identified during your interactions with [Candidate's Name]?

Based on your experience working with [Candidate's Name], do you believe they would be a good fit for our organization and the [Job Title] role?

Please feel free to respond to this email with your answers or, if you prefer, you can use our reference checking platform at [platform link]. We kindly request that you submit your response by [deadline].

Thank you in advance for your time and support. Your feedback is crucial to our decision-making process, and we genuinely appreciate your assistance.

Should you have any questions or require further information, please do not hesitate to reach out to me directly at [Your Email Address] or [Your Phone Number].

Once again, thank you for your valuable time and input.

Best regards,[Your Name]

Commonly Asked Questions about Email Reference Checks

Q: Is it better to conduct reference checks via email or phone?

A: The choice between email and phone reference checks depends on various factors, such as the availability and preferences of the references, time constraints, and the nature of the position. Email reference checks offer convenience, documentation, and thoughtful responses, while phone calls allow for more immediate and interactive conversations.

Q: What if a reference does not respond to the email?

A: If a reference does not respond to the initial email, it is appropriate to send a polite follow-up reminder after a reasonable period. However, respect the reference's decision if they choose not to participate or are unable to respond.

Q: Can I conduct reference checks without the candidate's knowledge?

A: Generally, it is best practice to inform candidates that reference checks will be part of the hiring process and obtain their consent. However, local laws and regulations may differ, so it's essential to familiarize yourself with the legal requirements in your jurisdiction.


Conducting email reference checks is an effective way to gather valuable insights about candidates during the hiring process. By following best practices, structuring your emails professionally, and asking specific questions, you can obtain meaningful feedback from references. Remember to express gratitude for their time and assistance, and always respect the references' decisions and privacy. Incorporate email reference checks into your hiring process to make informed decisions and build a strong and capable team.