Information for NTPS referees

Whether a referee is nominated by the applicant or not, a supervisor may be called upon to provide a referee for an employee.

Generally, selection panels will only contact a referee if the applicant is a strong contender for a position, based on their work history and level of experience as compared with other applicants. 

What referees should know

As a referee you will be expected to:

  • have an understanding of the nature of the job involved - you can ask for the job description
  • discuss the nature and duration of your relationship with the applicant
  • give examples of the applicant's skills and qualities relevant to the job
  • discuss the performance of the applicant whilst working with you

You should understand that by agreeing to be a referee for the applicant, they will be provided with a report including your comments.

The applicant 

Read the Information for referees

You can ask for a copy of the Job Description for the vacancy. Referees are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the JD prior to speaking with the selection panel. 

Having a copy of the JD will help you to provide information and examples about the application’s skills, knowledge and experience that are relevant to the job.

As a referee, what sort of information will I be expected to provide?

Referees should start by disclosing their relationship with the applicant and the length of time they have known the applicant, and in what capacity

For example: I am the applicant’s direct line supervisor. I have supervised the applicant for four years and have known her professionally for about six years.

Provide examples of how the applicant has demonstrated particular skills relevant to the role they are applying for such as:

  • the person's leadership ability
  • team player
  • following direction from numerous superiors with minimal supervision
  • thinking and acting strategically
  • working with diverse groups of persons.

Referees will be expected to provide information about applicant’s responsibilities and functions in the role in which you supervised them. If the applicant manages staff, tell the panel how many staff and with what degree of responsibility.

Discuss the applicant’s productivity level, work ethic, understanding of confidentiality.

Consider the applicants potential for future development.

As a referee, if you have concerns about the applicant’s abilities in a particular area of work such as their interpersonal skills, these limitations should be discussed with the selection panel if they are relevant to the vacancy.

In summary, referees must be prepared to provide examples to demonstrate the applicant’s skills, experience and knowledge and potential for future development. It is not sufficient to make unsubstantiated statements such as “she is great” or “he needs to improve”.

Can I decline to provide a referee report about an employee?

No. The NTPS Code of Conduct clause 22.1 requires NTPS employees to provide frank and accurate reports on other staff, and those outside the public sector if asked. NTPS employees should be aware that breaching the Code of Conduct may result in formal disciplinary proceedings.

NTPS employees should be aware that the Code of Conduct states:

“When required to give references for, or make reports on, other Northern Territory Public Sector Officers or on persons outside of the Northern Territory Public Sector, a Public Sector Officers has a duty to provide frank and accurate comment. A Public Sector Officer must take care to avoid making statements which could be regarded as malicious.”

What is malicious information?

Situations in which a report potentially could be regarded as having been made with malice include:

  1. where a Public Sector Officer knowingly includes false or doubtful allegations in a report;
  2. where the language of the report is excessively strong or weak, in a manner which might unreasonably mislead the recipient of the report or misrepresent the Public Sector Officer who is the subject of the report; and
  3. where unnecessary material is deliberately introduced or where omissions are deliberately made so as to create a misleading impression.

Will the applicant be provided with a copy of my referee report?

In most circumstances the selection panel will be taking notes of their discussion with you and will be summarising your comments in the selection report for the Delegate. Unsuccessful applicants for NTPS jobs will not be provided with written referee reports or ‘Individual Reports’ about themselves but rather will receive a Summary of the Merit of the Successful Applicant in order to allow them to do a self-comparison.

If applicants seek further information about the referee report you provided, panels will be directing them to seek that information directly from the referee, rather than them providing a second hand summary of that information.

Remember though, as public servants we comply with the rules of natural justice. This means that if you provide seriously adverse information about an applicant that results in their not being selected, when they would otherwise have been, that information will be provided to them for their response.

Last updated: 05 January 2017