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How to Handle Reference Calls for Employees Who Were Fired


Generally, it never happens that the employee you fired gives your name for the reference but the chances are that your employee who got fired may use your company’s name as a reference.

Getting a call of reference for fired employees creates a difficult situation to handle as well as chances are your small mistake can land you in big trouble. Now the main question that needs to be considered important is “How to Handle Reference Calls for Employees Who Were Fired?” because handling a call for the former employee who leaves the job for good reason is much easier than handling the call for the employee you fired.

Reference Calls for Employees

In this article we are going to discuss ”What Can Employers Say About Former Employees?” and we hope that we can help you in getting the reference calls of an employee who got fired from the job.

Handling the reference call of the employee you fired is much harder than handling the normal reference call. Reference calls from former fired employees always put you on the risk where every word uttered from your mouth has a long-lasting impact on someone’s career. You need to choose each word very carefully as well as there are things you need to know before handling the call for a former employee who lost the job due to some reason.

10 Tips to Handle References for Fired Employees:

1.Warn employees:

Firing an employee is a situation most company wants to avoid, as it looks bad not only on employee’s portfolio but on the company’s reputation as well. Sometimes the situation got out of hand and firing remains the only option. So, to avoid any issues about reference calls warn your employee about reference calls especially since the company will not receive any reference call for the former fired employee.

A warning will help you in handling a reference call and you can avoid getting into the messy situation as well as a fired employee will avoid giving company name for the reference. Giving a warning is a good option, that way you will have more liberty in handling the situation very well.

2.Focus on the facts:

Handling a call of reference for the employee who dismisses due to some reasons is a difficult situation. When dealing with such situations focus only on the facts to avoid spilling something unnecessary. Whatever you say it should be based on the facts only mentioned in the files, as well as avoid saying something which has no relevance to working period, salary, and designation.

When another company calls for the reference they try to get as much information as possible so that they can avoid hiring the wrong candidate. Your words are of great importance not only for the company calling for reference but to your company as well because they can use your words to reject the candidate and that candidate can put you in legal situations for saying something which has no proofs. So avoid going into details and focus on the facts only.

3. Don’t go in details:

There are so many things which can go wrong when you talk about the details in the reference call, special call for the employee you fired.

When you go into the details there are the chances that you say something offensive or show something you did not mean to. So, keep conversation focus on the main points like duration of job, salary, and designation and don’t get into the details.

Avoiding details also help in avoiding question which may arise due to detailed information. It is better to stick to the ground rule of focus only on the facts.

4. Use company policies to not show much:

As with the growing market and competition, companies use many tricks to avoid any messy situation and company policies help a great deal in avoiding such a situation. These policies set some ground rules for employees and the company about controversial issues.

You can use these policies to avoid giving detailed information as well as you can say no to the question which can land you in a difficult situation. These policies also help when you fire employees, you can say no to the reference calls when you fired.

5.Reveal if a fired employee was part of misconduct:

Talking about the fired employee in reference call is always like a time bomb, you never know when it’s going to tick off. But, when you get the call for the reference for an employee you remove, it’s your responsibility to offer accurate information, especially when it concerns the well-being of other employees. One such information you should tell the company who call for a reference is misconduct.

There are possibilities that if the employee you fired repeats the same thing, then they take legal action against you for withholding such information. If the employee was got fire for fighting or harassing while working in your company then there are chances it may happen again if the same condition occurs again. So tell about misconduct if any about the employee you fired in the reference call.

6. Don’t badmouth:

No one wants to talk about an employee they fired especially in reference call because they may say something bad about the employee. This may happen to you also, but when you receive a reference call for such an employee, it’s important to talk carefully.

Badmouthing about former employee tarnish your reputation and put a question mark on your judgments. The employee you fired also can use your words against you and can file a lawsuit against you for ruining his/her chance of getting a fresh start.

Keep your tongue in control, choose the word carefully and like we said before sticking to the facts only so that you can avoid saying bad words about the employee you fired.

7. Keep the conversation strictly professional:

Reference calls for the employee you fired are one of the most complicated issues to handle. Your words hold so much importance that the single handily can cost someone their potential job.

To avoid any complications keep reference conversation strictly professional and focus on the facts about an employee, keep your tone light and diffuse tricky questions. You can avoid any sticky situation which can put a mark on your company’s name by sticking to the professional conversation only. Don’t say your point of view and what you think, just mention what is in files and important to mention in the reference call.

8. Give the responsibility for attending reference to one person:

After handling messy situations, most companies have dedicated employees to attend all the reference call in HR departments like a manager or someone of high trust and experience.

In the company when you didn’t have one person to attend such a call, there are more chances that different employees can show different information which doesn’t need to be out in reference call, it also places your company on the risk.

If your company doesn’t have someone dedicated to receiving reference calls then you should strictly do appoint someone to handle such an issue. It will help you keep up reference calls easily and you can avoid getting in a messy situation.

9.Issue clear guideline about reference calls among employees:

Sometimes it happens that an employee who dropped from the job doesn’t ask for permission to use the company’s name in the reference and uses it in the job he/she applies for, which land you in the situation where you are the reference for the employee you remove. To avoid this situation, clear guidelines about a reference call where you mention all the terms and conditions should clear to the employees.

The information shared in reference call is not something company responsible for, as you use the company name on your own and you fired due to some reasons. Issuing clear guidelines will help you if you still receive a reference call for employees you remove from the company then as we mention in the first point, it is necessary to focus on just facts because the assumption is dangerous.

10.  Keep your issues with a former employee to yourself only:

It is possible that you personally don’t like the employee who got fired from the job or the employee has some personal issues with you which causes tension between you two. It doesn’t mean you can use your issues in the reference call you receive for the fired employee.

Involving your issue sets you high on the risk of sharing wrong information, badmouthing about employee and telling your assumption which is not even 100% true. Sharing this kind of information may land you in a lawsuit by an employee for saying something bad about him in reference call which costs him his/her potential job and look very unprofessional on your part. So, keep your issues to yourself only.

After discussing how to handle reference call it is important for you to understand that there are few things one should avoid saying about the call at any cost.

Things You Should Avoid Saying in Reference Call:

1.Revealing personal information:

Revealing personal information about marital status, children, family life, religion, etc in reference call is not legal. You cannot share such information about any of your employees in reference call whether the employee was fired or not. This is not the concern of a company that hires a candidate as well as not your place to show such things. An employee can take legal actions against both companies.

2.Discussion about behaviors:

The interpersonal behavior of employees is not the company’s concern unless it is causing trouble for other employees. Discussing fired employee’s behavior in reference calls can create a problem for you. You will only tell the assumption you made by interaction with former employee and assumption are the information which is not 100% true, wrong information can create big problems for you. So, like we said to stick to facts only and what is in documents.

3.Your review:

There is no need for your review of calls. When it comes to the things one should avoid personal review about calling of former fired employees, sharing personal reviews can lead them to big trouble.

Our reviews are based upon the way we think and see the world, they change with people and place so keep your thought to yourself only and just say what is in files and have proved.


Handling the reference call of the former employee who lost the job due to his/her mistakes is a tricky and messy situation that needs high care. Handling reference call is not the easiest task, one mistake or wrong word can land you in big trouble even drag you in legal issues. It is important to choose your words carefully as well as strictly avoid saying something personal or something which have no written proof in documents.

Use legal methods like an agreement where employees sign to share information with the employer when they call for the reference no matter who you are. This will help you in avoiding a lawsuit and bad reputation also; making policies about the information shared in reference calls also helps in avoiding problems.

A company needs to hire the right candidate and reference call to help a great deal but it is also the risk for the company giving a reference as their word will decide the future of that job.

In this article, we had discussed how to handle reference calls for the employees who were fired and we hope this article will help you in handling such calls because of handling such calls need experience as well as great care. The word you said has great importance for you and the company calling for a reference.