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Important Reference Check Question: Ways to Improve Performance

Asking the right reference check question isn’t always an easy task, especially if your goal is to improve performance and increase your quality of hire metrics. 

Some questions, like verifying resume information and employment history, are fairly straightforward and can be standardized for different applicants, regardless of the role you’re trying to fill. Other reference check questions, however, should be geared toward the specific role you’re hiring and the skills gap you’re trying to fill. 

Below, we’ll cover everything you need to know about how to ask the right reference check questions to improve performance, retention, quality of hire, and more. 

What Is a Reference Check Question?

Reference checks refer to the process of reaching out to a candidate’s former employers and peers to gain insights into their work history. Reference checks can verify resume information, work history, employment title, performance, strengths and weaknesses, and more. 

A reference check question refers to the set of questions you’ll ask past managers and peers to get the information you need. Some questions, like how long a candidate worked somewhere or the dates that they were employed in their former organization, are standard across most reference checks.

Other questions, like a candidate’s familiarity with specific software or coding systems, will vary from role to role. It’s important to plan your reference check question strategy to fit the needs of your open role. 

Reference check questions can help verify:

  • Work history
  • Experience
  • Employment title
  • Communication style
  • Leadership style
  • Soft skills
  • Hard skills
  • Learning agility 
  • Organizational skills
  • Teamwork capabilities
  • And more

How to Ask the Right Reference Check Question

Asking the correct reference check question will depend on several factors, like who you’re speaking to (a former manager or peer), the skills you’re trying to fill, and the role you’re hiring for. While some roles require a greater emphasis on hard skills, like a cybersecurity or data analyst position, others may require candidates to juggle different roles, like a marketing strategist or communications position. 

One way to get the answer you need is to predefine your ideal candidate. In a perfect world, what would this candidate look like? What experiences and skill sets would they have? Make a list of all the things you’d want in a candidate, all the skill gaps you’re trying to fill, and strategically formulate reference check questions that best address those skills and experiences.

Why Reference check questions are important

Asking the right set of reference check questions isn’t an all-in-one solution, but it’s an essential step in a multi-faceted hiring process. Coupling an advanced reference check alongside modern screening methods, pre-assessment tests, thorough interviews, and powerful hiring analytics that can make quality predictions will increase your chances of landing the best hire. 

Here are some startling hiring trends that underscore why doing due diligence in your hiring process is so important: 

  • Nearly 60 percent of customer support hiring managers need help finding and retaining quality customer care hires.
  • According to Gartner, 36 percent of HR leaders say they don’t have the resources to recruit top talent.
  • The cost of a bad hire can be as low as 30 percent of that individual’s annual salary or, on the higher end, nearly $250,000 a year in hidden costs. 
  • Almost 60 percent of hires didn’t work out because employees couldn’t keep up with the workload. 

Reference Check Question Examples to Improve Performance

Here are a few reference check question examples you can use to improve performance and quality of hire. 

General reference check question examples

  • What was your relationship with _____?
  • Did you enjoy working with them?
  • Can you verify when they worked with your company?
  • Can you discuss their role, responsibilities, and titles in your company? 
  • If given the chance, would you work with _____ again?

Leadership reference check question examples

  • What was it like working alongside or under _____?
  • How did _____ motivate their team members?
  • Can you provide one or two examples of when _____ successfully led a project? 
  • What was _____’s communication style?
  • How was _____’s relationship to their team members? 

Hard skill reference check question examples

  • Can you describe _____’s technical skill set? How strong were their technical skills?
  • How would you describe _____’s ability to explain complex concepts to stakeholders, managers, and team members?
  • What did _____ do to stay up-to-date on tech and software-related trends? 
  • How effectively did _____ complete their assignments and meet important deadlines?
  • Could you name any technical areas of improvement for _____? 

If you want more examples of great reference check questions, check out our guide on start-up positions, customer service positions, and sales positions

How Crosschq Can Optimize Your Reference Check Question Strategy 

Crosschq’s cutting-edge reference check technology gives you the power of automation and 360 digital reference checks. You can benefit from automated reference checks that are 95 percent faster than traditional reference checks, giving access to powerful analytics that lead to actionable results. 

Crosschq’s insights can tell the strengths and weaknesses of applicants, culture fit, skill assessment overviews, and simplified reference check scores. 

Sign up for a demo today to learn more about how Crosschq can optimize your reference check question strategy, 

Mark Ko

by Mark Ko

Content Writer

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