Recommend a preferred candidate

Find out how to recommend a preferred candidate for appointment.

Use a referee check to verify the information the candidate provided during the recruitment process. You can include the referee’s general comments in your selection report.

You can conduct a referee check at any time during the recruitment process for any number of candidates. See Select a recruitment approach (assessments).

You must conduct a referee check for a candidate before you recommend them for appointment or include them on an order of merit.

Number of referees

You may choose to speak with multiple referees. At least 1 referee (unless there are extenuating circumstances) must have thorough knowledge of the candidate’s work behaviour, conduct, and performance during the last 2 years.

You can ask a candidate to provide additional referees if you think they might be better positioned to answer some of your questions or verify your information.

If the candidate is a current or previous government employee, ask them to nominate a referee who can report on their work while in government. Government supervisors and managers must provide an honest account of a candidate’s performance and workplace conduct. See the Recruitment and selection directive.

Speaking to a referee

Use a structured approach rather than a casual conversation. Document the conversation and send it to the referee to verify once complete.

Ask the referee to:

  • describe their experience working with the candidate
  • explain the candidate’s role and their effectiveness in the role
  • describe the candidate’s strengths and areas for development.
  • provide behavioural examples of the candidate's effectiveness in the key attributes (selection criteria)
  • confirm any required or specified qualifications and training
  • explain why they think the candidate left or wants to leave.

Use follow-up questions to test and clarify the information.

Negative reports

If you receive negative information about a candidate, consider the source and check its accuracy with other sources.

If you’re not going to proceed because of the negative report, you must tell the candidate and give them a chance to respond before making the final decision.

Your agency’s chief executive determines what employment screening checks you need to complete. See your agency’s intranet or speak to your HR team if you’re not sure.

Adopt a risk management approach. The greater the position of trust the more justified you are screening candidates.

You must tell your candidates what employment screening checks you’ll complete as part of your recruitment and selection process. See the Recruitment and selection directive.

Conduct a criminal history check

You can undertake a criminal history check. This can include information about a person's criminal history in New Zealand.

See the Employment screening directive for minimum requirements.

Speak to your HR team to find out how your agency complete this.

Conduct a serious discipline history check

You can ask a candidate to complete a Declaration of previous serious discipline history (DOCX, 122.9 KB) .

Verify the information with the candidate’s referees or, if the candidate is a government employee, ask their chief executive to provide their disciplinary information.

Negative reports

If you’re not going to proceed with a candidate due to negative information, you must tell the candidate and give them a chance to respond before making the final decision.

The panel (including the chairperson) cannot appoint a candidate. They must recommend a preferred candidate. The delegate to approve considers the preferred candidate and confirms or denies the appointment.

Prepare a selection report

If your agency uses Springboard, complete a selection report online. If your agency doesn’t use Springboard, use our Selection report template (DOCX, 121.8 KB) .

Clearly explain in your selection report how you determined the preferred candidate as the most meritorious, noting the need to look holistically at the abilities, aptitude, skills, qualifications, knowledge, experience and personal qualities relevant to the role.

Demonstrate how you considered the preferred candidate’s past performance and their potential for development. Show that you considered your merit assessment against the obligation to promote a diverse and highly skilled workforce drawn from government and non-government sectors.

You must provide enough information, including comparison of other short-listed candidates with the preferred, for your delegate to make an informed decision.

What if the panel does not agree?

The panel does not have to agree on a preferred candidate. Document the panel’s differing opinions and their reasons. Each panel member’s assessment holds equal weight. It will be up to the delegate to decide how to proceed.

The delegate to approve must review the selection report and approve, or deny, the appointment of the panel’s recommended candidate.

For senior executives, the Public Sector Commissioner is the delegate to approve. See Manage a senior executive recruitment process.

The delegate must be able to confirm that the preferred candidate is the most meritorious.

If the delegate chooses not to approve, they can:

  • direct the panel to complete further selection activities
  • appoint an alternative candidate assessed as suitable
  • instruct the panel to re-advertise or withdraw the vacancy.

The selection panel must notify all candidates of the selection outcome as soon as possible after you’ve concluded the recruitment process.

Candidates may ask for feedback. You must provide this in a timely and constructive manner that explains the panel's decision. See the Recruitment and selection directive.

Provide an overview of the selection strategy, including the:

  • written application
  • shortlisting and an overview of the assessment process
  • performance at the interview and any other assessment techniques
  • referee checks.

Provide specific comments on:

  • the candidate's performance against the selection criteria
  • where the panel perceived the strengths and weaknesses.

Provide the feedback in a friendly, direct and constructive manner. Be descriptive rather than judgmental.


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