Doing A Reference Check? Here Are Seven Questions You Should Ask

You’re 95 percent certain you’ve found the perfect applicant. His resume lists every desired qualification, his background check was untarnished, and during the interview he displayed the aplomb of a young Orson Welles.

reference check

Even so, you don’t want to make a bad hiring decision and that 5 percent nags at you. To push your way one hundred, you’ll need first-hand experience of how the applicant operates in the workplace.

Enter the reference check. References can help you develop a more accurate picture of a candidate’s abilities, personality, and work ethic. Thing is, even the most honest job seeker may unconsciously stretch the truth to make themselves more desirable.

To get you started, here are seven questions you should ask during any reference check.

Can You Confirm His Reason For Leaving, As Well As His Start And End Dates?

You’ll want to determine if the applicant is being truthful about his past employment. However, don’t immediately assume a discrepancy is the result of falsehood. Variances may simply speak toward the applicant and his referee viewing the employer-employee relationship differently.

What Kind Of Work Was He Responsible For?

You want to see if the job seeker’s resume and cover letter accurately describe his abilities. You may find he added tasks he didn’t perform or weren’t a regular part of his job. You may also unearth a qualification he left off to save space, yet proves vital to your decision.

May I Describe The Position To You, And Will You Tell Me If You Would Recommend Him For It?

The candidate’s qualifications look good on paper, but do they translate into a practicable work ethic? This question will help you assess that. Ideally, you’ll ask it of at least one supervisor, one peer, and one subordinate (preferably more). Each person’s perspective will reveal the candidate from a unique angle.

What Is Your Overall Assessment Of His Value To The Workplace?

Is the applicant a manager’s dream because of his flawless projects? Are his peers annoyed by his constant critiques of their work? Let’s find out. Again, perspectives from different types of coworkers will better tell you if the applicant fits into the type of community you value.

Did He Work Better Alone Or In A Group?

Some companies value an applicant who feels comfortable going solo, while others can’t afford someone who doesn’t play well with others. This one evaluates how the applicant’s personality will fit into your corporate culture.

How Would You Describe His Relationship With Coworkers?

Here’s another question to determine what type of person the applicant is. If our company supports a gregarious environment, then hiring an introvert maybe setting him up for failure. Conversely, a chatty coworker may not be what you want.

What Was His Biggest Accomplishment While Working For Your company?

You want the conversation to be a positive experience, and a loyal referee will look for opportunities to make the applicant shine. Let’s them that chance. If the referee fumbles this opportunity, that’s a red flag.

Don’t Get Discouraged!

You may find that some companies restrict what information they divulge. They may be worried a negative assessment will leave them open to a defamation lawsuit. Since different states have different laws and judicial precedents regarding such matters, you can’t guarantee that speaking truthfully provides legal protection.

But don’t get discouraged. If you find referees are reluctant to talk, simply get what information you can, accept that they won’t answer certain questions, and thank them for their time. Then take the opportunity to ask if they know anyone that may be able to provide more information.

In the end, it is unlikely you’ll be stonewalled by every reference, and those who won’t talk extensively may still divulge valuable information if you’re attentive. With these seven questions in you back pocket, you’ll be that much closer to 100 percent confidence in your choice.

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