Top 10 Questions to Ask When Checking References

Desk with coffee, pen, and papers that read "Top 10 Questions To Ask When Checking References"

Desk with coffee, pen, and papers that read "Top 10 Questions To Ask When Checking References"Lea WolfingerBy Lea Wolfinger, Senior Director, Ashton Tweed

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Checking the references of a potential employee is an important step in the hiring process. Second-hand reports from supervisors and coworkers can often be more revealing than face-time with the actual candidate. Since you can only borrow a little bit of the reference’s time, it’s crucial to choose your questions wisely in order to get the most valuable answers. As a recruiter with extensive experience both scanning candidates and communicating with hiring clients, here are 10 questions I’d recommend to ask:


1. What was the nature of his/her work and job responsibilities?


2. What would you consider to be his/her strongest area(s)?


3. Everyone has areas in need of improvement – tell me about his/hers.


4. Tell me about his/her work ethic and the quality/quantity of work?


5. What about communication skills? How did he/she best communicate with you?


6. Describe his/her personality.


7. Describe his/her flexibility – Is he/she adaptable to change?


8. What was his/her reason for leaving?


9. Who else in the organization would be in a position to tell me about his/her work?


10. What is your overall recommendation for this person?


These questions will provoke answers that provide honest opinions and important background information that cannot always be found on a résumé. When speaking with candidate references, you not only determine whether they are suitable for the job, but you can truly get a feel for how the candidate will fit within your company’s cultures and values. Therefore, it is not a small task to be performed out of habit, but a useful task to be performed out of necessity.


Looking for hard-to-find talent for your company? Ashton Tweed can help. Contact us today.

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