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Checking References

Cornell University Non-academic (Staff and Union) Reference Check Process

A reference check is required for any applicant (internal or external) to whom an offer of benefits-eligible employment is to be made. For an internal applicant, the current supervisor must be one of the references contacted. To facilitate the reference check process Cornell University utilizes a third-party vendor, Harver to electronically collect references.


What are the benefits of electronic references?

  • More accurate feedback with an average of 4 professional references responding per candidate.
  • The confidential reports have been found to provide more candid feedback from those providing references.
  • All the references are validated through a 10-level fraud detection system to prevent candidates from acting as their own references.
  • References can complete the survey on their own time from any computer, tablet, or smartphone.

How many references will be collected?

niversity policy requires at least two of the applicant’s references (one of whom should be the most recent supervisor, if possible) before making an offer to any applicant. For an internal applicant, the current supervisor must be one of the references contacted.  However, research shows that more information drives better hiring decisions and therefore we strongly recommend 5-6 references as a best practice. 

Is an HR-to-HR reference for internal candidates still recommended?

This reference checking process does not replace the HR-to-HR check that should be conducted prior to an in-person interview. 

What if the candidate does not want to provide their current supervisor?

If the candidate requests that we not speak to their current supervisor until we are ready to extend a verbal offer, the candidate will be advised to provide all other requested references and that a second phase will kick off after a verbal offer is provided.   

What if I still want to speak with the references?

If information is presented by the references that you want to follow-up on or if you have a particular area in need of digging into, in addition to using the Harver process, you may reach out directly to the references. The email addresses and phone numbers for all the references provided through Harver will be available to you if you have additional follow-up questions.