8 min read

Reference Check Questions

Before conducting a reference check, a recruiter should be prepared with the necessary questions to better understand their candidate’s capability and personality.

The goal of a reference check is to capture valuable information from the referees in order to verify if it’s the right decision to hire a potential candidate. Before conducting a reference check, a recruiter should be prepared with the necessary questions to better understand their candidate’s capability and personality.

Below is a list of questions you could ask the candidate’s referees.

In this section, you want to confirm the credentials of the candidate.

  • What was the nature and length of your relationship with the candidate?
  • What were the candidate’s beginning and ending employment dates/positions?
  • What were the candidate’s most recent job duties?

The questions below will allow your referee to elaborate as much as they can. Remember to ask follow-up questions if necessary.

  • How would you describe this person’s ability to meet deadlines?
  • What specific behaviors impacted their job performance?
  • Do they require lots of supervision, or do they work well independently?
  • How well did this person get along with management and peers?
  • How does the candidate handle and resolve conflict?
  • What are the candidate's strengths?
  • Where does (the candidate) have room for growth?
  • Why did they leave their position?

For this section, you can ask the referee to rate the candidate in different categories.

Rate from 1-10:

  • How would you rate the quality of their work?
  • How well did this person manage crisis, pressure, or stress?
  • Quality of the candidate’s written and verbal communication skills
  • Attendance record
  • Reliability and honesty
  • Teamwork and cooperation

Before you end the reference check, it’s helpful to include the following questions:

  • How would you describe the candidate’s overall performance?
  • Would you reemploy this person if you had the opportunity?
  • Is there any more job-related information you would like to add?

Once you have completed the reference check, you now get a bigger picture of the candidate. You can now highlight if there are any red flags that will make the candidate ineligible for the role or you can move forward with the candidate’s application. This now helps you create an informed hiring decision.

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