Top Tips For Reference Check Questions - EmployeeConnect HRIS
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Top Tips For Reference Check Questions

Top Tips For Reference Check Questions

The process of verifying the professional background information of a potential employee based on the candidate’s professional and personal references prevents or limits the risk of hiring an incorrect individual for an organisation. By speaking to the references, you have the scope to gather more information pertaining to the individual and his or her work ethics. When you get the opportunity to discuss regarding the candidate with the references provided, ensure that you clarify certain claims made by the individual in his or her resume. Here is a list of selected reference check questions which you may ask during the verification process.

How was your relationship with the candidate?

This question will elicit responses from the candidate’s references be it his or her previous manager or a co-worker which will help you gain a specific perspective about the individual. For instance, the candidate’s previous manager may provide some insight into the individual’s work ethics or the way the candidate reacted to mistakes which he or she may have made at work. Similarly, a co-worker may help you gain a perspective on the individual’s ability to gel and work within a team and throw some light on his or her manner of interaction with peers.

1. How long was your association with the candidate?

This question will help you verify the information which the candidate has provided in his or her application or resume pertaining to his experience. It will also help to determine if the candidate has exaggerated any information. A long term relationship with the candidate provides a better insight regarding his or her work ethics, interests, and abilities.

2. Can you provide some insight into the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses?

Checking with a third party helps to identify the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses which the candidate himself/herself may have overlooked in the interview. Sometimes the candidate is not able to highlight certain strengths or weaknesses that he or she may possess. By learning about the candidate’s weaknesses you will understand his or her ability to handle certain tasks. Similarly, you can learn about a candidate’s strength which may help to improve a team’s efficiency, dynamics, or the ability to accomplish certain tasks.

3. Is the candidate trustworthy/reliable?

Depending on the position which the candidate may have held, this question will help you gain various kinds of insight regarding the individual. For instance, if the candidate has the experience of working with senior citizens with physical or mental health, it will provide you with a perspective whether the candidate has a patient and compassionate personality. The same is true for candidates with the experience of working with kids. Similarly, if the candidate has the experience of handling large sums of cash, you will be able to find out how trustworthy he or she has been.

4. How was the candidate’s relationship within and outside the team?

A candidate’s relationship within and outside the team provides you with a perspective of the individual’s manner of handling clients and peers or colleagues. It will also help you gauge if the candidate is suitable for a specific role in your organisation. While it is not necessary for a candidate to gel with every colleague, however, you will not want to have an employee who is constantly causing conflicts within the team. An ideal candidate is at least expected to handle and manage conflicts in a mature and calm manner.

5. How does the candidate react in stressful circumstances?

Challenging and stressful situations may arise in any role or job, and this often adds stress to an employee’s day. You may want to know from the reference, how in the past, the candidate handled such situations. This will help you determine if the candidate has the potential for a specific position that you are looking out for. Nobody wants to hire candidates who cannot handle stress, reacts with anger in such situations, or displays inappropriate behaviours during conflicts.

6. Would you re-hire the candidate at any point of time in future?

If the reference that has been provided is that of a previous manager or supervisor, you may ask if they would be willing to re-hire the candidate for a similar position. The response from the other end will help you determine if the candidate possess a strong work ethics, is a great team player, or is adept at multi-tasking. If on the other hand the reference says that they would not wish to re-hire the candidate, you must ask the reason. You must not presume on your own.

Whenever you hire a new employee, it will always raise questions and concerns, since each candidate is different. Every candidate may have weaknesses, strengths, and skills that help an organisation to thrive and grow. Hence, these discussions held with the professional references help you select the ideal candidate for a specific position.

Byron Conway

Content Coordinator at EmployeeConnect