Practice of Reference Checks in Japan

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This article will explain the procedures and precautions for companies to conduct pre-employment screening (background surveys and reference checks) of recruitment candidates.

Resume Check

Given the inflated cost of engaging in an external pre-employment screening, it might be sensible to check resumes’ credibility first. Only those needing attention based on these criteria can undergo a thorough pre-employment screening. This approach saves resources while ensuring a rigorous recruitment process.

We will scrutinize the candidate’s resume and check for anything suspicious.

Be careful if the candidate changes jobs too often. Also, if you have more than six months between leaving and re-entering the workforce, you should carefully check what you did—repeated troubles such as negligent behavior, power harassment, and sexual harassment. If you hire a problem employee incorrectly, the company will suffer considerably.

Some employees addicted to negligent behavior know how to resist employer disciplinary action. They could run into joint unions and initiate collective bargaining and lawsuits. Care must be taken not to hire problem people with such tendencies accidentally.

Preparing for Reference Checks

Reference checks collect information from a candidate’s previous job and related parties to evaluate a candidate’s past work history, achievements, and personal qualities.

Reference checks are typically done at the final stage of recruitment. It is an essential means of accurately assessing a candidate’s background and skills and can significantly impact hiring decisions.

Reference checks in recruitment surveys are a way for employers to verify a candidate’s credibility and suitability.

Reference Check Procedure

The following describes the steps to perform a reference check.

Obtain Signed Release/power of Authorization

The candidate must obtain a research agreement/power of attorney before doing a reference check. If the Personal Information Protection Law exists, sufficient information cannot be accepted unless a consent form or power of attorney is obtained from the candidate or the person himself/herself.

In addition, to respect the candidate’s privacy and to make the screening procedure transparent, it is desirable to survey with the candidate’s permission.

The following is an example of a typical form for a research agreement and power of attorney to use during a reference check. However, real-world use must be customized according to corporate requirements and specific legal constraints.

1. Example of the survey consent form:

[Company Name and Logo]


Survey Agreement/Power of Attorney

I, [Candidate’s Full Name], agree to my reference check with [Name of Company]. I authorize the following information providers to provide information about me:

1. [Reference 1]:


– Contact (phone number/email address):

– Relationship/Position:

– Other comments:

2. [Reference 2]:


– Contact (phone number/email address):

– Relationship/Position:

– Other comments:

By signing this Consent to Study/Power of Attorney, I agree to entrust the Reference Checker with collecting and verifying information about me.

Candidate’s full name: ____



Checking the reference destination

Have the candidate informed of the reference interviewee. Typically, the reference is a supervisor or colleague from the previous company. References must provide objective and reliable information about the candidate. Review the relationship and credibility of your contacts and candidates so you can get feedback from trusted sources.

You need to get details from the candidate, such as the name of the person you want to refer to, your phone and email address, or your employer’s name and department.

In large companies listed on the first division, it is often difficult for employees to take over unless the employee’s name and current department are fully known. As described in the research agreement/power of attorney form above, care must be taken to ensure they provide the contact details and relationships of the reference destination.

Prepare The Right Questions

Reference checks collect information about candidates’ performance, job performance, communication skills, etc. Prepare specific questions and strive to elicit information related to the candidate’s suitability.

Examples of frequently asked reference check questions include:

  • On the candidate’s achievements and achievements:
    • Can you give us specific examples of your past achievements and achievements?
    • How have their contributions and achievements impacted your team and organization?
  • About communication skills:
    • How do candidates communicate with other team members and their superiors?
    • What are candidates doing to facilitate communication?
  • About teamwork and collaboration:
    • How did the candidate collaborate on teamwork and projects?
    • What skills and qualities do you have to build a working relationship with the candidate and other members?
  • On professionalism and professional ethics:
    • How was the candidate dealing with ethical issues in the workplace?
    • What moral decisions did candidates make when faced with demanding situations?
  • About leadership and problem-solving skills:
    • Did the candidate hold a leadership role in the team or project?
    • How were you approaching and solving the problems and tricky situations that the candidates faced?

Common misconceptions about reference checks

If you’re skeptical of the reference-check method, you might think:

“Even if you interview a candidate’s designated reference destination, it is a good race, and you can only get information convenient for the candidate who has spoken to you.”

There are concerns when a person with a tenuous relationship with a candidate or a reference point for a non-work relationship is designated. To avoid that, it is necessary to carefully assess the relationship between the reference destination and the candidate.

If there is a workplace that caused trouble in the first place and left the company, I don’t think the candidate can provide the people involved in that work as a reference.

The first point is whether you can provide a person related to your previous employer as a reference destination. Conversely, at least at that point, a candidate can reference someone related to their last employer. In that case, they can be determined to have had no significant problems at their previous employer.

The significance of a reference check lies in the fact that such an assessment can be made.

I think that references with whom you have a deep business connection will likely give you an objective assessment of the candidate’s aptitude and ability.

Furthermore, in modern society, where the concept of personal information and privacy is developed, it is essential to proceed with coordination with the person’s permission, and the coordination itself will be problematic if the adjustment is not known to the candidate.

In this way, reference checks are highly effective for objectively evaluating candidates’ suitability and ability.


The reference check procedure is summarized as follows.

  • Proceed with the investigation by obtaining a consent form/power of attorney from the candidate himself/herself.
  • Ask candidates to provide references
  • Check the relationships and reliability of references
  • Prepare the right questions to move the interview forward

Specifically, when conducting reference checks, it is necessary first to prepare a questionnaire for research, consent form, power of attorney, reference, template reference for collecting information ahead, etc.

In addition, you may not be able to reach references with just the name and previous employer’s name, so you should have more detailed contact information, such as name, personal phone number, email address, all work departments, titles, and phone numbers.

You can consult with us if you need a reference check when hiring. Please feel free to contact us.

Pre-employment Screening

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