32 Reference Check Questions You Should Ask

Photo of author
Written By Obaid Ur Rehman

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur pulvinar ligula augue quis venenatis. 

Asking the right questions during a Reference Check Questions can help ensure you are making the best hire possible.

  • An employer will verify references by getting in touch with the professional and personal contacts of a job applicant in order to learn more about the candidate’s abilities, credentials, and personality.
  • You should be able to tell if a candidate will fit in at your business by asking about references. They cannot deal with private information about your candidate.
  • Your business should establish a procedure to maintain uniformity across all reference checks and decide which inquiries to direct to references.
  • This article is for company owners who want to know how to prepare and what questions to ask when doing reference checks on potential hires.

It’s not always the case that a job applicant who kills it in the interview gets hired. Checking references may help you determine a candidate’s suitability for your business, especially if you ask the correct questions about the candidate’s performance and what it was like to manage and work with them.

Also Read: 20 Employee Engagement Ideas That Work

What is a reference check?

An employer will contact individuals who can provide insight into a job candidate’s abilities and attest to the credentials provided on the candidate’s résumé as part of a reference check. These connections often consist of former employers, but they might also be university teachers, seasoned coworkers, or other individuals who are familiar with the applicant’s work.

Reference checks may give you as an employer a complete picture of a possible recruit. You can discover more about a candidate’s qualifications from their professional references than you can from a conventional job interview alone if you ask them the correct questions.

When you examine references for a possible hiring, you may determine if they are qualified for the position in the following ways:

  • Verify any facts offered in writing or verbally by a potential employee.
  • Find out from someone other than the candidate what talents and abilities they have.
  • To forecast an applicant’s success at your business, find out how well they performed in previous positions.

You ought to find it simpler to select which applicants to proceed ahead in the recruiting process now that you have all this information at your disposal.

What information should you ask a reference?

Determine the kinds of information you want to confirm about the job candidate before creating your list of reference check questions. The opinions of the candidate’s references on the following subjects may be of interest to you:

  • Job performance
  • Ability to understand and follow directions
  • Ability to work well as part of a team
  • Standards for office behavior and ethics
  • Interests, specialties and demeanor
  • Ability to give directions and ensure that subordinates follow them (if they’re applying for a leadership role)
  • Anything else that stands out on the candidate’s resume or emerged during their job interview

Some of these questions are better suited for professional references to answer, while others could be better suited for personal recommendations. A close friend is better able to characterize the candidate’s hobbies, specializations, and temperament, while a previous supervisor may comment on how effectively the prospect works as a team member.

There are several inquiries you should not make to a reference. Generally, you are not allowed to ask questions that are unrelated to the position itself. The following sorts of queries might lead to discrimination lawsuits against your business:

Anything related to demographics or personal information.

Don’t inquire about a candidate’s age, religion, or other such topics.

Anything related to personal health.

Never enquire about a candidate’s past health or whether they have any limitations. You may find out if a candidate is capable of doing the responsibilities necessary for the position by asking them.

Anything related to credit scores.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act forbids you from inquiring about an applicant’s credit score from references, despite the fact that you can inquire for their credit score from job applicants.

Anything related to family.

Asking a candidate if they have children or a spouse is not appropriate. Ask references whether they believe the time demands of the position will fit the applicant if you are concerned that a job applicant with a family may not have enough time for the position. Illegal Job Interview Questions to Avoid is a related topic.

32 reference check questions to ask

You should be prepared to create your list of reference check questions now that you are aware of what information to ask a reference for. You can utilize the 32 frequently asked reference check questions listed below. At first glance, you could think that some of these don’t relate to your organization, but before you rule out any queries, talk to your recruiting manager.

Introductory reference check questions

  • Is there any information on the applicant that you and/or your business are unable or unwilling to provide to me?
  • If you are unable to provide me with any information, could you put me in touch with any former coworkers who had a close relationship with the candidate?
  • Can you verify the candidate’s start and finish dates for work, as well as their wage and position?
  • How did you two first meet, and what is your relationship to the candidate?

Reference check questions for getting to know the reference

  • How long have you been employed by your company?
  • How long have you held the position you currently hold?
  • How long did you collaborate with the applicant for, and what roles did you play?
  • Do you have any ideas as to why I ought to talk with a different reference instead of you?

Performance-related reference check questions

  • What jobs did the applicant have while working for your business?
  • What positions did the applicant begin and conclude in?
  • What was expected of these positions?
  • What aspects of the candidate’s jobs at your organization proved to be the most difficult?
  • How did the candidate deal with these difficulties and other challenges?
  • What are the candidate’s qualifications and how have they benefited your business?
  • What has to be improved upon by the candidate?
  • Do you believe the applicant is qualified for the position? If not, why not?

Reference check questions to ask managers

  • How long did you oversee the candidate, either directly or indirectly?
  • What aspects of handling the applicant were simple, and what aspects were difficult?
  • How did the candidate advance when they were an employee of yours?
  • What advice do you have for handling this applicant?

Reference check questions to ask employees who reported to your candidate

  • How long did the applicant oversee you, and what position did they hold?
  • What aspects of the candidate’s management style did you appreciate and dislike the most?
  • How did the candidate’s leadership style aid in your development and learning?
  • How might the candidate have handled you and your coworkers more effectively?

Reference check questions to ask co-workers

  • How long did you work with the candidate’s coworkers, and what position did you hold?
  • What aspects of dealing with the applicant did you appreciate and dislike the most?
  • How did working with the applicant help you develop and learn?
  • How did the applicant assist you and the other members of your team?
  • How may the applicant have improved your and your coworkers’ working relationships?

Reference check questions about ethics and behavior

  • Why did the applicant quit your business?
  • Has this candidate’s conduct resulted in any ethical issues at work or confrontations with coworkers?
  • Would you be willing and/or able to rehire the applicant if the chance presented itself? If not, why not?

You can consider both adding new questions and possibly eliminating some of the ones on this list with your recruiting manager. You’re probably asking smart questions if any follow-up inquiries focus on the candidate’s performance while working for your business and avoid requesting personal data.

How to conduct a reference check

Introduce a systematic process for reference checks at your organization if you chose to do so for new recruits. This will make securing the references of your prospects and authorization to contact them easier, as well as make it clearer what questions to pose to the references. To do a thorough reference check, your hiring team should follow these stages from beginning to end:

Decide how many references to obtain from each applicant.

Two or three oughts to be adequate.

Include a section for references in every job application.

Ask applicants to provide the full names, contact information, email addresses, and relationship to the candidate of each reference.

Get permission to contact the reference.

Include a statement in your job application allowing you to contact the applicant’s references that they must sign. A reference should also get an email asking for permission to answer questions about the applicant.

Decide whether you’ll conduct your reference checks by phone or email.

Even while emailing your company’s inquiries will save, you time (particularly if you have a consistent set of inquiries you send to all references), spoken interviews with candidates over the phone, through video chat, or even in-person meetings can give you a better knowledge of them.

Develop a list of reference check questions.

To determine probable questions, have a look at the list above.

Watch out for red flags.

One survey found that up to 30% of job seekers falsify references on their resumes. Before calling a reference, do some investigation.

Establish a standard note-taking process.

Expecting to recall every detail of a reference check is unrealistic. Develop a note-taking structure and procedure that the entire team may follow for all hiring procedures by working with your hiring team.


Leave a Comment