5 More Reference Check Questions

Posted by The Garner Group on Jun 3 2016


If you're in the process of checking references, you know that it can be a struggle. Normally, you only have a limited amount of time on a phone call, so you want to make the most of every second. Checking references is a crucial step in hiring that allows you to gain honest insights on a potential employee. If possible encourage applicants to give information for at least three diverse recommendations, preferably from different past job experiences. Make sure you receive the recommendation's full name, phone number, and email. We have outlined questions to ask references before, but here are five more questions to help you better understand a candidate's ability, skills, and personality.  

Below are a few more reference check questions that can be helpful when screening candidates.

1. Establish Basic Credibility

Make sure you understand your candidate's relationship to the reference. Bosses talk and work with an applicant differently than peers. Also, you might place more value on the input from the reference whom they have known the longest versus someone they barely know. 

How are you related to the interviewee? How long have you worked together or known the candidate? Did you work directly with them on a daily basis? 

2. Trainability

There is a period of transition for every employee, but since that time costs you money be sure that your potential employee can not only learn but excel when they are presented with new challenges. Further, knowing where an employee may have shortcomings can help you anticipate what they will need from you during their onboarding process. 

What are their weaknesses? How were they able to overcome their shortcomings with training or job experience? Can you give an example of a time or two they were able to overcome their weakness in the work setting? 

3. Relationship with Previous Employer

How the employee left their last job says a lot about their character. Did they give two weeks notice and help set their previous place of employment up for a smooth change, or did they leave angrily and abruptly inconveniencing everyone? Asking about their departure will help you make sure that you do not have them storming out of your business in the future. 

Why did this employee leave? Did they leave on good terms? Company policies aside, would you rehire this candidate?

4. Emotional Stability

Emotional stability goes hand in hand with how the employee quit their previous job. Was the candidate emotionally stable enough to perform in their past roles? If the position you're looking to fill requires someone level-headed, cheerful, and sincere, can they fill those shoes? Make sure you find out if they have the personality you need and that meshes with your company culture. 

Can you describe how this applicant reacts to stressful or tense situations? Do they always conduct their business dealings with tact? How would you say they collaborate with someone with whom they have a conflict?

5. Open the Floor

Allow for the reference to tell you what they feel is important about the candidate. There's a good chance they will give you information you forgot or didn't think to ask. Hopefully, they will give you the information you need to confidently make a final decision.  

Is there anything else you would like to tell me about the candidate's ability to perform this job? Is there anything else you want to tell me about this person's skills or personality. Why should I hire them? 

Topics: reference checking

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