Streamline Your Hiring Process with These Top Reference Check Questions

March 7, 2023
Claire Stachniewska
Streamline Your Hiring Process with These Top Reference Check Questions

Although it can often be time-consuming, conducting a thorough reference check should become an integral part of any hiring process. This can involve asking the candidate for references and asking the references specific reference check questions, such as their opinion about the candidate’s aptitude, reliability, and attitude. 

It’s also a good idea to verify the details the candidate has supplied about their past working experience with these references.

By taking the time to identify potential “red flags” by asking the right reference check questions and collecting feedback from references, you are less likely to run into any nasty surprises soon after they start working in your organization.

However, the truth is it’s not always easy to get answers to crucial reference check questions when you need them. That’s why, in addition to our automated reference checking software, we’ve put together this post to break down the top reference questions you need to ask to make sure you hire the right candidates for the job.

Why Reference Checks are Important

Reference checks offer a well-rounded view of a candidate and can help to ensure that your pick is the right one. Taking the time to invest in a reference check provides security of a candidate being the right fit, and it’ll be definitely worth it in the long run

When carrying out a reference check, it’s wise to include questions that are tailored to the job that the candidate applied for. This helps you to gain an insight into the strengths and skills that the candidate has for the role, as well as an overall picture of the candidate personally. Some example reference check questions might include: “What was the candidate’s greatest strength in this job?” or “What motivated the candidate to accomplish tasks?”.

No role should be exempt from reference checks, from entry-level employees to executives. Every employee who’s been employed through misrepresentation is bound to cause some issues and potential risks, ranging from negligible to disastrous. 

Put simply, checks should not just be done randomly, simply ticking off ‘yes’ or ‘no’ from a list; otherwise, you might as well skip them. To ensure concreteness in your research, it is important to effectively plan and ask precise, relevant reference check questions tailored to the position. 

By following a methodology, you’ll know more about the candidate and merit the resume they’ve sent your way.

Top Reference Check Questions

The more precise and succinct your question is, the more likely the referee will be able to provide you with an extensive and well-considered response. It is important to ensure your query isn't too lengthy or complex, as it may be difficult for the referee to decipher or remember the whole question by the time they reach the conclusion. 

To ensure the best outcome, decide exactly what you would like to ask and remain focused on your goal. 

Here’s are a few ideas of questions you make want to use during your next reference check process:

  • What was the candidate's role and responsibilities in your organization? With this question, you can make sure the facts presented by a candidate are accurate. For instance, you can verify if their accomplishments are exact, the number of individuals on their team, whether it was a permanent or a part-time position, and so on.
  • Can you describe the candidate's work style and approach to problem-solving? An interview is a nerve-wracking experience for many job seekers, so as an employer, it's a great opportunity to gain insight into the candidate's real personality, behavior, and individual traits. Through this question, employers can get a better understanding of the candidate's adaptability, interests, interpersonal skills, and more. It's a great opportunity to identify if a job applicant is the right fit for the position.
  • How did the candidate handle conflicts or challenging situations? You might be asking yourself how a job candidate would fit into your team and how they would approach stressful situations. This is the perfect chance to get some insight! By asking questions and engaging in conversation, you can figure out how the candidate interacts with other people, what drives them, and how they go about responding and resolving adverse situations.
  • Would you rehire the candidate, and why? This is a great question, as it allows you to gain meaningful insights with just a simple yes or no answer. Closed questions such as these can prove to be incredibly helpful if followed up with an elaboration, as they can provide in-depth knowledge and understanding. While 'yes' or 'no' may begin the response, if you continue to ask 'why', you can benefit from a much more profound understanding behind the answer.
  • What areas of development would you recommend for the candidate? Through this question, you will receive an honest opinion and appraisal of their true capabilities. Moreover, seeking the insight of a referee will ensure the best possible outcome for your company and will help you to more accurately assess an individual’s potential.

If all this seems like too much for your team to take on, then sign up for HiPeople’s automated reference checking software free trial here.

Tips for Conducting Reference Checks

In order to conduct a reference check effectively, it is essential that you inform the candidate that you will be contacting their references and ask for their permission. Be prepared and organized when contacting references; ask open-ended questions and allow the reference to provide detailed answers. 

It’s also important to verify the reference's identity and relationship to the candidate. Not only does this help build trust between both parties, but it opens the door to follow-up questions or concerns that may arise further down the reference check process. 

In conclusion, by taking these steps when conducting a reference check, employers are more likely to make well-informed decisions about hiring new team members.

If you’re looking for detailed advice on how to complete an employment reference check form, then check out this article

Reference checks are essential

Ultimately, reference checking is all about obtaining enough information about a candidate's past employment performance to decide if they are the ideal candidate for the job position. 

By obtaining key details from prior employers, such as their work ethic, skills, and capabilities, you can accurately assess the person's suitability for the role. 

HiPeople’s automated reference checking software provides a fast and effective solution for this very task, taking just 30 seconds to create an online check and giving you objective, bias-free insights in less than 24 hours. With its lightning-fast speed and ease of use, this HR technology is the perfect way to make sure you're sourcing and onboarding the best possible talent.

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