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8 Important Questions to Ask During a Reference Check

Reference checks can be very valuable in helping employers make hiring decisions. Taking this step can help you fully understand if the candidate is a match for your open position. For example, you can get details of what it is like to manage and interact with this individual that you won’t find on their resume. Though skills and work experiences are usually listed on their resume, you can determine how well they will be able to fulfill their job duties through a reference check. Reference checks are also valuable for sharing or confirming unique skills and abilities of the candidate. Consider asking the following questions to get the most out of your reference checks.

1. What was it like to work with this candidate?

You can find out a coworker’s day-to-day experience working with the candidate by asking this question. You can get a sense of the candidate’s general attitude, trustworthiness, job performance, and reliability based on the coworker’s answer

2. What are the candidate’s greatest strengths?

A manager or coworker’s answer to this question could shed new light on strengths and abilities that the candidate did not provide on their resume or may view differently. The reference may be able to identify which skills and abilities you can expect the candidate to display the most.

3. What were this candidate’s biggest areas of opportunity while you worked together?

Asking this question will help clarify how the candidate can improve and grow at your company. It is also important to make sure a candidate’s weaker skills won’t be a conflict to the responsibilities of the job you are hiring for. Make sure you consider how much time has passed since the reference and candidate worked together, as the candidate may have since improved on these weaknesses.

4. What was one of this candidate’s biggest accomplishments while you worked together?

The reference’s answer will tell you if the candidate is someone who typically goes above and beyond their manager or coworkers’ expectations. It can also give insight to how the candidate responds to challenging situations by using their strengths and unique skills they may have.

5. If you could hire this candidate again, would you? Why or why not?

A reference that would rehire someone proves that the candidate added value to their team. It is a red flag if a reference was hesitant or would not hire the candidate again. Make sure to ask about the reason the reference potentially would not rehire the candidate.

6. Why did this candidate leave your company?

This is necessary simply to validate what the candidate has already told you. The reference’s answer should match the candidates, otherwise it could indicate that the candidate isn’t being completely upfront with you. 

7. How did this candidate handle challenges?

You have most likely already asked the candidate; however the reference’s answer can give you an additional perspective on how the candidate reacts in scenarios like tough deadlines, interpersonal conflict, tight budgets, etc. It could reveal how the candidate works and behaves under pressure and in stressful situations. 

8. Tell me something that is not listed on their resume. 

The reference can elaborate on any missed skills, traits, or accomplishments. This includes side jobs, volunteer work, impressive skills, hobbies, qualities, or characteristics that were not asked about specifically before this point.

You should always complete a reference check during the hiring process. It can help uncover information about the candidate from a new perspective other than the candidate’s own. By asking the right questions, you can uncover information you would have never known and gain a better understanding of whether this candidate is a good fit for the job.

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Source: Indeed: 8 Useful Questions to Ask When Conducting a Reference Check