8 Great Reference Check Questions

20 Dec

There are a million questions you can ask, but obviously certain employment reference check questions can be more effective than others.  I’m hiring for a client this month and decided to review the questions I’ve used in the past for reference checks, those that garner the best responses, and rate my favorites.

Keep in mind that before I start asking questions, I tell the supervisor a little about the role for which I am considering hiring the candidate.  They often provide better pros and cons when I give a quick synopsis of the potential role.

Here are my top 8!

(1) What were Susan’s strengths?  How did these strengths (rename them)  specifically benefit your business?

(2) Did you hire Susan?  Why?  Did she proceed to meet your expectations of why you originally hired her?

(3) What is the best way to manage Susan?

(4) What would Susan’s coworkers say about her?

(5) Susan said that one thing she was proud of accomplishing at ABC was X, are their other major successes you would like to add as her achievements when working there?

(6) Would you name one area where you challenged Susan to improve?  How did she respond to this?

(7) If you could give their future manager one tip about how they could perform even better, what would it be?

(8) Would you rehire Susan?  Why?

There are many more questions to ask.  If you ask open-ended questions, you’ll usually receive good feedback from most people.  If you hear any negative feedback about your candidate, I would strongly suggest delving deeper with more how and why follow up questions.   If you talk to Human Resources, they might be limited on how they can answer the questions according to their procedures or may not know the person that well.  I strongly suggest you only do references with the supervisors that directly managed your candidate.  Ask some standard reference questions, but also cater new questions to the candidate that you have already screened and interviewed.  Lastly, build on the references – after you do the first one, you should have learned something new that  you can use that to confirm with the next reference call.   Take advantage of that information to delve a little deeper into a particular strength or weakness of the candidate on the second and third reference check.

Believe in the employment reference check – they still work in the 21st Century!

Happy Holidays! Drew Schmitz

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