Conducting reference checks is an essential part of the candidate selection process. However, it’s also crucial to make sure you’re asking questions that will get you the information you need to make wise hiring decisions.

At times, that’s far more challenging than you’d expect, causing you to miss out on an exceptional opportunity to learn critical details about a top-choice candidate. If you’d like to make sure that you get it right, here are six questions you should ask a candidate’s references.

1. Can You Describe What It Was Like to Work with This Candidate?

With this question, you get a chance to hear about the reference’s daily experience with the candidate. Additionally, since it’s a relatively broad question, the reference may take their answer in unexpected directions, which can be quite enlightening.

As they answer, listen to the points they make regarding the candidate’s attitude, skills, and work ethic. If you need additional clarity, feel free to follow up with a more direct question about something they’ve shared, allowing you to get enough information to make a sound hiring decision.

2. What Do You Think Are the Candidate’s Greatest Strengths?

In many cases, you’ll ask a candidate directly about their strengths. However, getting an outsider’s perspective can help you determine if what the candidate shared was generally accurate. Plus, the reference may point out strengths the candidate didn’t think to mention, allowing you to get more insights into what they bring to the table.

3. Did You Notice Any Weaknesses When It Came to the Candidate’s Capabilities?

Like the question above, this one lets you find out if the weaknesses a candidate presented during their interview align with the experience someone else had when working with them. Additionally, you may find out about shortcomings the candidate didn’t mention, giving you a glimpse into potential areas for improvement or skills to target with training.

4. Why Did the Candidate Leave Their Position at Your Company?

This question serves two purposes. First, it lets you confirm any information provided by the candidate during their interview regarding their exit. Second, it helps you gather more details about what may have occurred, which could be vital if there was a termination involved.

5. Can You Share Anything That the Candidate May Not Have Put on Their Resume?

As another relatively open question, this allows the reference to discuss any matter that wouldn’t traditionally appear on a resume. You may learn more about the candidate’s capabilities or accomplishments, as well as struggles while they were on the job.

6. Is This Candidate Eligible for Rehire and, if So, Would You Rehire Them Given the Opportunity?

While this question is very simple and may yield little more than a “yes” or “no” answer, it’s still a critical one to ask. If the reference would rehire the candidate, it shows that the candidate brought something valuable to the table and was easy enough to work with that the idea of doing so again is appealing.

However, if the reference says the candidate isn’t eligible for rehire, you may want to follow up. In some cases, companies have policies against rehiring employees even if their performance was exceptional, so it’s wise to get some clarity in regard to the reasoning.

In the end, asking the questions above when you contact a candidate’s reference is wise, allowing you to gather critical information and increase your odds of making a sound hiring decision. If you’d like to learn more or are working to fill vacant positions, TempStaff can help. Contact us today.

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