What questions should be asked in a reference check?

Your company is hiring — great!

You want to find the best possible employee, the one that will work well with the rest of your team, fit in to the corporate culture, and be an asset to the company.

But before you hire that first qualified candidate, you’ll want to do some research. One of the best ways to get an idea of your applicant’s work ethic, skills, and personality is to conduct reference checks. Ideally, you should request at least two professional references (from former employers, mentors, co-workers, etc.) and two personal references (from friends, teachers, or other individuals that are not related to the applicant).

The questions you’ll ask these references will vary, depending on the role. However, there are certainly some common, go-to reference questions that should be considered for all roles. Here are our recommendations:

  • Can you verify the job candidate’s employment, job title, pay, and responsibilities?
  • How do you know the job candidate?
  • Did the candidate consistently hit or miss goals/quotas?
  • What unique skills did the individual bring to your organization?
  • How well did the candidate deal with any organizational or management changes that took place or any customer sales or service issues?
  • Were there any areas where the candidate excelled?
  • Were there any areas that the candidate could use improvement?
  • Did the candidate get along with their co-workers and management?
  • Was the person ever disciplined, and what were the circumstances?
  • Why did the candidate leave your/their previous organization?
  • If you had the opportunity, would you re-hire this job candidate? Why?
  • What makes the candidate a good fit for this job?
  • What advice can you give me to successfully manage the job candidate?
  • What else do I need to know about the job candidate that I didn’t already ask?
  • Who else should I speak to about the candidate that can provide different insight?

Add a couple of customized questions for the specific role you’re hiring and you’ll be good to go! The reference check will help you to paint a complete picture of the job candidate and whether they’re a fit. If you’re looking for help in running reference checks of your applicants, we can help.

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