10 Essential Questions for Reference Checking

Posted by SRA Admin on Mar 25 2014

Reference checkingReference checking for a potential new employee is more important now than ever before. Since it is crucial to hire the best employee for every opening, reference checking is your best tool in finding successful new associates. If possible, limit reference checking to previous employers or people who worked with the applicant directly, because friends and family can be biased towards the applicant.

  1. Can you verify the dates/length of time she was employed?
    This question is basically used to open the reference checking process and to verify the data already provided in your applicant's resume or employment application. This can also be expanded by asking whether the employment was full or part time and whether any overtime works was required.

  2. Was she a punctual and dependable employee? 
    This question will help you identify potential tardiness or absenteeism with the applicant. You can also expand this find out whether the applicant was expected to work holidays or weekends.

  3. What were her specific job duties?
    If you receive short answers, expand them by asking for more detail. If the applicant was a Sales Manager, did she like prospecting and cold calling? Was she comfortable with heavy travel? How many people did she manage? Was she effective at meeting her team sales numbers?Try to get as much information as you can.

  4. How well did she work as a team player?
    This can be a critical question, whether you need someone who works alone or not. A person who was always trying to pass the buck or get credit for work they did not perform could cause conflict within your organization.

  5. Did she pick up new tasks/responsibilities quickly?
    This will help you determine the amount of training you are going to have to provide for a new employee. Some people learn new tasks on-the-fly, but others need to shown how to perform tasks multiple times, or can only learn one thing at a time.

  6. Did she observe company rules and requirements?
    If your company has a dress code or safety regulations that have to be adhered to, this question can illuminate potential problems. It can also let you know about people who enjoy creating problems by "blowing the whistle" on other employees.

  7. Was she a natural leader?
    Some people will take a natural leadership role without prompting. If you find someone like that, they can be valuable for both production and employee morale, but only if you are able to put them in a position where they can put their natural tendencies to good use. Conversely, natural leaders may not do well in menial or subordinate positions.

  8. What were her strongest work traits?
    Look for answers such as "She was always happy and outgoing," "She had a personal habit of keeping her work area safe and tidy," or other traits that indicate someone who takes pride in what they are doing.

  9. What were her weakest work traits?
    The answers you get here can show you where you may need to give the applicant further consideration, provide for additional training, or put them in a position that eliminates being confronted by things that cause them problems.
  10. How did her employment end, and is she available for rehire?
    As with the first reference checking question, this one is primarily to confirm the information contained in the resume or application. Not being available for rehire could have many reasons, such as a personality conflict with a single person in the workplace. Giving too much weight to the rehire question could result in passing over an applicant that may have been an excellent employment risk.

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