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Best Reference Check Questions to Ask

Best Reference Check Questions to Ask


Reference checks are an essential part of any hiring process. A potential job applicant can look like the perfect hire on paper, but verifying the various accolades and accomplishments presented is paramount. The best way to do this is to get in touch with the candidate’s professional references. 


Professional references give hiring managers insight into a candidates’ skills, performance, experience, work ethic, temperament, knowledge, and work history, providing you with all of the necessary and verifiable information you need to make a well-informed hiring decision. 


Best Initial Reference Check Questions 


When honing in on the best reference check questions to ask, it’s important to first inquire about the company's reference policy, to make sure that you are operating within the constraints placed upon you. 


You should also familiarize yourself with any state and federal laws pertaining to reference checks prior to conducting your reference check to ensure that your questions do not infringe upon any company policies and the necessary compliance of local and national municipalities. 


After you have confirmed that your best reference check questions to ask are compliant, it is good to start with the questions that are somewhat broad, so that you give the employer an opportunity to be open about their experience with the former employee. 


You might consider starting with questions such as: 

  • What was your relationship like with the candidate in question? 
  • Was working with the candidate a pleasant experience? 
  • If given the chance, would you work with the candidate again? 


After asking broader reference check questions, such as these, it's good to move on to more practical concerns, to make sure that the potential candidate that you are vetting has the experience, qualifications and facility to execute the tasks you would need on a daily basis at your company or organization. 

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Best Vetting Reference Check Questions 


The best reference check questions to ask in order to vet your references should be directly related to the factuality of the information presented to you on a CV. 


For example, you might ask: I see here that the candidate was responsible for spearheading one of your major projects last year, could you tell me a bit more about that?


You want to make sure to verify that the candidate you are considering for your job or position is honestly portraying their work experience. 


After ensuring that the candidate has been vetted for the factuality and honesty of their information, you want to get a better understanding of the candidate's performance capabilities. 


Best Candidate Performance Reference Check Questions 


When asking about performance capabilities, it’s important to ask questions that allow the former manager to speak to the candidate's follow-through, diligence and proactivity. 


Questions you might consider are: 


  • What makes an employee reliable?
  • Did they get to work on time? 
  • When given specific tasks and a strict deadline, were they able to deliver quality work? 
  • How did the candidate function on a team? 
  • Were they able to receive and implement constructive feedback? 


After conducting this portion of the hiring process, it’s a good idea to ask the candidate’s manager specific questions that can fill in the gaps when it comes to creating a fuller picture of who your applicant was as an employee. 

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Best Manager Reference Check Questions


When working to create this fuller picture, it’s ideal to ask a candidate's manager questions about their strengths and weaknesses. 


For example, you might ask: Did this candidate require a lot of oversight and supervision or was the candidate able to function well within the parameters established in the workplace? 


You might also consider asking: How did the candidate handle stressful situations, especially when external factors were out of their control?


Getting a better understanding of these questions can be a life-saver, when sourcing, hiring, and retaining quality candidates. 


When conducting a reference check, it’s also important to get a good idea of how the candidate functioned with their co-worker. 


Best Coworker Reference Check Questions


When checking a candidate’s co-workers, you might consider focusing the conversation on highlighting the strengths of an employee that the former manager or employer didn’t have the chance to illuminate. 


This can be the opportunity to allow former colleagues to speak to the applicant's character and what non-technical skills they brought to the emotional health and life of the team. 


Managing all of these moving parts can be incredibly stressful, and it’s important to partner with a company that can help take the burden out of the hiring process. 


There’s a Better Way to Conduct Reference Checks


That’s where Crosschq comes in. Crosschq is a data-driven reference checking and talent analytics platform powered by a proprietary Talent Intelligence Cloud™. 


Crosschq can help your business or organization source diverse new talent, and take all the hassle out of conducting reference checks, by facilitating and streamlining the reference check process. 


To learn more about Crosschq, schedule a free demo.

Mark Ko

by Mark Ko

Content Writer

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