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Reference Check Questions for Management Positions

The manager-employee relationship is the heart of any workplace. Great managers build relationships with employees, create an open and trusting environment, and motivate their team members under a shared mission. 

So why is it so hard to find great managers? An SHRM study found that 84 percent of Americans say poorly trained managers create a lot of unnecessary stress at work. Nearly 60 percent of the workforce believe that managers need further training on how to work with a team of people. 

A Gallup study found that only one in ten people possessed the qualities and talents to be a manager, which isn’t great news for team leaders, hiring teams, and employees. There are, however, ways to identify qualified candidates for management positions. 

Along with talent sourcing, screening, building talent pools, and optimizing your job descriptions, you can rely on digital reference checks to assess potential hires. 

The Importance of Reference Check Questions for Management Positions

The same Gallup study found that managers account for at least 70 percent of employee engagement, which means that your levels of employee productivity, engagement, and enthusiasm at work depend a lot on your leadership. 

Reference check questions need to identify if your candidate has the skill set to organize, lead, and motivate a workforce, however big or small it is.  

Reference Check Questions for Management Positions

You model the following reference check questions in your own search for a manager. 

What was it like working with or under _____?

This is a great opening question that will help jog your references memory and give them an opportunity to make a general statement about the candidate in question.

Can you describe _____’s management style? What were the pros and cons of that style?

This is a good question that will allow your reference to pen up more about the candidate. By asking for both pros and cons, you’re making it clear that it’s okay for them to discuss the good and bad. If there are any red flags or serious problems in the candidate’s history, they will likely come up here.

How did ______ motivate their team members? 

Being able to motivate employees is so important for management positions. The Great Resignation and the advent of quiet quitting are significant indicators that employees want more out of their careers, workplaces, and managers. 

Can you provide one example of a successful project that _____ led or organized?

Examples and demonstrations of talent are often far more compelling than general descriptions. These examples will allow your reference to reflect on the candidate’s achievements and provide a concrete example of how the candidate excelled in their role. 

Was _____ a clear and transparent communicator? Why or why not?

This is a good question to ask a peer reference or former employee who worked under your candidate. 80 percent of employees say that open communication is important to them, and teams with effective communication strategies outperform the competition by 3.5 times… which means communication style should be a top priority when evaluating candidates. 

How was the _____’s relationship with their leaders, peers, and team members?

This is another essential question that will tell you what kind of contribution this individual made to the workplace and company culture. You want individuals who work well with peers, respond well to their own managers, and contribute to your team in a positive way. 

Would you rehire _____? Why or why not?

This is one of the most important questions you could ask anyone for a reference check, regardless of what position you need to fill. It’s a polarizing question that asks the former employer/manager to identify any red (or green) flags. 

Should You Conduct Reference Checks at the Beginning or End of the Hiring Process for Management Positions?

There are some pros and cons to conducting a reference check both at the beginning and at the end of the hiring process. Overall, however, your reference checks would serve you best at the beginning of the process. 

Here’s why:

  • Reference checks conducted at the beginning of the hiring process will help identify red flags as quickly as possible. You don’t want to spend time, resources, and expectations on a candidate, only to find out they lied about something important on their resume.
  • Reference check answers give you fodder for the interview. You can use your reference check answers to inform your interview questions, compare candidate answers to your answers, and directly question your candidate about reference check responses. 
  • Waiting on reference checks might slow down the process. Even with automated reference checks, it might take some time for the references to respond. The sooner you send out your questions, the sooner you’ll get your responses and be able to finalize your decision. 

Automating the Reference Check Process for Management Positions

Team leaders, recruiters, and corporate executives want to find quality candidates in the shortest possible amount of time. The fear is that a quick time to hire might take away from a quality candidate and vice versa. Automation, specifically digital 360 reference check automation, helps solve this problem. 

Automated reference check tools, like Crosschq, allow you to:

  • Gather candidate reports within 48 hours
  • Streamline your efforts directly from your ATS
  • Aggregate data on candidate skills, strengths, and weaknesses
  • Compare reference check scores with self-reference scores
  • Reduce your overall hiring turnaround time by 85 percent

The Importance of Reference Checking Management Positions and Quality of Hire

The longer it takes to fill a manager position, the more money it will cost your organization. This includes both hiring costs as well as the missed productivity, engagement, and organization that quality leaders offer. Crosschq’s automated reference check technology can help you identify talented leaders in no time. With Crosschq, you don’t need to jeopardize the quality of hire for quick hires or vice versa. 

Crosschq’s “Q” Report looked at 24+ million pre-hire and post-hire decisions we’ve helped leaders make, along with the radical insights from those data points that can help you hire, retain, and develop talent. And if you want to learn more about how Crosschq can help leaders and hiring teams attract, retain, and measure the performance of top talent, sign up for a demo today. 

Mark Ko

by Mark Ko

Content Writer

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