Reference checks help a hiring manager make sure applicants have been honest in their application process, but they can also be used to find out more about a candidate.

Some questions asked of candidate references are to confirm facts, such as a previous job title, salary and employment dates. Reference questions can also help get a sense of candidates’ soft skills and personal attributes.

Consider the following questions the next time you are conducting reference checks.

What was or is your relationship to this person?

The first thing you need to establish is the reference’s connection to the applicant. Job seekers often provide references who are close to them, like friends or family members. While these individuals likely know the candidate very well, they are also very biased. You want to know if your references are personally or professionally related to any given candidate in order to consider any bias.

This question is also basically a ‘softball’ that helps build a rapport, which can put the reference at ease and make them more likely to be forthcoming with you.

Can you confirm this person’s title, dates of employment and job duties?

Many companies make it a policy of only providing job title and dates of employment to hiring personal calling about a reference check. This question will give you the basic, essential information you need to validate a candidate’s application materials.

This is another easy softball questions for your reference that can help build rapport moving forward, should the reference want to provide you with more information.

How would you describe this person’s work ethic?

This may seem like a pretty basic question; however, the answer can reveal a lot useful information.

Someone who always comes in on time and puts in a solid shift has their priorities in order. On the other hand, someone who’s late and lazy isn’t passionate and likely won’t put in the extra effort for your organization. The ideal answer is, “Yes, they are always the first one in, the last one to leave and can always be counted on.”

What was it like to work with this person?

This question both expands on the previous one and attempts to gain insight into the applicant’s cultural fit. For instance, you may find out the person is funny and passionate but quick-tempered.

Would you hire this person?

This question is so direct, it may take the other person off-guard, and provide you with some very telling information.

While most references will say “yes” – it’s how they follow up that can tell you a lot about your candidate. People who truly believe the person you’re considering would be a good hire should voluntarily go on and on about how valuable this person is as a professional. References who hesitate or provide short answers may not have complete confidence in your candidate.

At Action Group Staffing, we handle some or all of the hiring process for our clients so they can dedicate more time and energy into their core operations. Contact us today to find out how we can help your organization.

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