Reference Taking in Employee Selection: Predication or Verification

  • Bill B. Puplampu
  • Chris Lewis
  • David Hogan


During the 1980's, researchers and practitioners were engaged in a debate on the usefulness of reference checks in employee selection. This debate took as its point of departure, the results of several studies, which cast doubt on the predictive validity and reliability of references. The general conclusions were that references being subjective and unreliable have no place in the drive for more objective selection. This paper, however asks a number of critical questions: if references are so poor at predicting job performance, why are they endemic to selection systems? Do prospective employers really expect references to predict performance? The study reported here was conducted to examine the perceived purpose of references in selection and to assess whether studies, which judge references on the basis of predictive validity are actually testing a predictive tool. Findings indicate that references are used as a means of verification not as tools of prediction.

(IFE PsychologIA: 2003 11 (1): 1-11)

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1117-1421