Top Reference Questions

Top 10ReferenceQuestions

Once a great candidate has been identified for a team, one of the final steps is references.  Every organization has different requirements, differing between the number of References required, to the number of Supervisory References, how they’re done, and who conducts them.

Streamlining and clarifying this process is helpful for organizations to have a true “apples to apples” comparison to review for the candidates.

As noted on the Society for Human Resources article, it’s important that all of the questions relate to the position for which the candidate is being considered. That means having a standard set of questions that will be helpful to compare for each reference.

Having a standard reference template with behavioral-based, open ended questions will be helpful for everyone checking the references, and it allows for more open conversation about the candidates previous work experience.

Avoid Yes/No questions as to allow for more of an open discussion from the Reference that will allow for more detailed information to be gained.

Here are some of the top reference questions to add to your list.

  • How do you know this person?
  • Confirm the dates and role that this person held while working for or with the reference.
  • What were the individual’s job responsibilities and salary?
  • Was the individual successful in his or her role at your organization? Why or why not?
  • What was it like to supervise the person?
  • Was the person a valuable member of the team? Why or why not?
  • What unique skills did the individual bring to your organization?
  • What were his or her strengths?
  • What were his or her weaknesses or areas that needed improvement?
  • Was the person ever disciplined, and what were the circumstances?
  • Do you think the individual is suitable for the job being applied for?
  • Why did the person leave your organization?
  • Would you rehire the person? Why or why not?
  • What else would you like a future employer to know about this person?

Be aware of what the Reference says, but also what they don’t say.  Stating general statements or avoiding questions, may be a sign that you may need to dig a little deeper.

In addition, some organizations Reference Policies don’t allow for full disclosure of the Reference. Don’t let that detract you, or shine a negative light on the candidate.  Just have the Candidate provide another reference that may be able to give more information than just the dates employed.

Finalizing the interview process by providing 3-4 professional references provides everyone with a full understanding and a well rounded picture of the Candidate before an offer is accepted.

Contact Empowered Partnerships to schedule a discussion for information about Reference Checks and other Hiring strategies to help your organization.