Discover the importance of reference checks in the hiring process and explore effective reference check questions and tips.

Questions to ask When Checking References

What is a reference check?

A reference check is a process that employers often use during the hiring process to gather information about a job candidate from individuals who have worked with or supervised the candidate in the past. The purpose of a reference check is to verify the accuracy of the information provided by the candidate in their resume or job application and to gain insights into the candidate’s qualifications, work ethic, character, and suitability for the job.

How do you conduct a reference check?

When conducting reference calls, begin by introducing yourself, your company, and the candidate who has listed them as a reference. Confirm whether it’s a convenient time for a brief discussion or if scheduling a reference call for later is preferable. Emphasize the confidentiality of their responses. Proceed to validate employment dates, assess their knowledge and skillsets. Describe the vacant position and inquire if they believe the candidate would be a suitable match. Allow ample time for the reference to respond to each question and refrain from influencing their answers, encouraging direct responses.

20 Best Reference Check Questions

When conducting reference checks, it’s essential to ask questions that provide a comprehensive understanding of the candidate’s qualifications, work ethic, and suitability for the role. Here are 20 reference check questions that can help you gather valuable insights:

  1. Can you confirm the candidate’s job title and employment dates at your organization?
  2. What were the candidate’s main responsibilities and duties in their role?
  3. How would you describe the candidate’s work ethic and attitude towards their work?
  4. Can you provide specific examples of the candidate’s accomplishments or significant contributions while working here?
  5. How did the candidate handle challenge or conflicts in the workplace?
  6. What was the candidate’s level of reliability and punctuality?
  7. Did the candidate work well in a team environment? Can you share any examples of their teamwork skills?
  8. Were there any areas where the candidate needed improvement during their time here?
  9. How would you rate the candidate’s communication skills, both written and verbal?
  10. Can you describe the candidate’s ability to meet deadlines and manage their workload effectively?
  11. Did the candidate take initiative or show leadership qualities in their role?
  12. Were there any instances of the candidate going above and beyond their job duties?
  13. How did the candidate adapt to changes or new challenges in their role or the organization?
  14. Can you comment on the candidate’s technical or job-specific skills relevant to the position?
  15. Did the candidate receive any promotions, awards, or recognitions during their tenure here?
  16. How did the candidate interact with clients, customers, or external stakeholders if applicable?
  17. Can you share any feedback or comments from colleagues who worked closely with the candidate?
  18. Did the candidate participate in any professional development or training programs during their employment?
  19. Would you rehire this candidate if given the opportunity? Why or why not?
  20. Is there anything else you believe is important for us to know about the candidate’s performance or character?

These questions should give you a well-rounded perspective on the candidate’s qualifications and suitability for the position. Tailor the questions to the specific requirements of the job and adapt them as needed for the reference’s role and relationship with the candidate.

Why should you do a reference check?

Conducting a reference check is a vital step in the hiring process for several compelling reasons. Firstly, it serves as a crucial verification tool, helping to confirm the accuracy of the information provided by the candidate in their application and interviews. Additionally, reference checks enable employers to assess a candidate’s qualifications, skills, and work history, ensuring they align with the job’s requirements and offering valuable insights into a candidate’s past performance, work habits, and potential for success in the new role.

Moreover, reference checks shed light on the candidate’s cultural fit within the organization, their behavior, and attitude in professional settings, helping employers gauge their compatibility with the company’s values and dynamics. Reference checks allow you to validate any concerns or the top red flags that may have arisen during the interview process. Furthermore, you can address these potential issues by posing strategic interview questions that help clarify your concerns. Ultimately, checking references serves as a valuable means to gain insight into a candidate’s work style and their potential fit within your organization.

How can PSM help?

Don’t have the time or inclination to manage the hiring process, including reference checks? No problem. PSM is here to lend a hand. We’ll shoulder the entire staffing load for you, starting with a thorough understanding of your specific needs and tirelessly searching for the ideal candidate for your company. PSM will oversee every stage of the process, from conducting interviews to facilitating seamless onboarding and getting your new team member up and running smoothly within your organization. Contact us today, and together, we’ll discover the perfect match for your company!

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About the Author

Caitlin Bergsma
Caitlin Bergsma

Caitlin is an accomplished Marketing professional with an unwavering enthusiasm for the dynamic world of the IT industry. Caitlin's journey in the field began after earning her Bachelor's degree in Health Communications from Trinity Christian College, where she honed her skills and developed a keen eye for identifying market trends.

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