The Best Employment Reference Questions To Ask

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Transcript of ESBHR Podcast 14: The Best Reference Questions To Ask For Maximum Results

Listen to the audio.

Today, I’d like to share with you what I think are some of the best reference questions to ask:

1. Share with me a summary of the candidates’ job responsibilities?

This question is important because you need to be able to compare notes on what the candidate shared with you during your interview with them.  Basically, you want to verify that the work that the candidate shared is accurate.

Before asking this next question, describe to the reference giver the job that you are considering the candidate for, and then ask the following question:

2. Based on the job that I described, share with me why you feel that the candidate may be an ideal candidate for the role?

The goal with this question is to obtain the supervisor’s perspective on whether the candidate has the experience needed.  When I ask this question, I look for examples that support why the supervisor may feel that the candidate is qualified for the role.

3. Describe the candidates working style as part of a team and when working on their own?

This question helps you to assess how your candidate works with others and whether they are able to work autonomously.

4. Describe 3 areas of the candidate’s work performance where they consistently excelled?  Are there any areas of growth or improvement that have been discussed with the candidate?

This question is another twist on the “Strengths and Weaknesses” question. Important information to know.

5. Have there ever been any issues with performance or attendance that have been addressed with the candidate?

This question allows you to find out whether there were any past issues with the candidate as well as current issues that may not impact the hiring decision, but that you should be aware of.

6. If you were in the position to re-hire this candidate, would you?  If no, please share why?

The response to this question allows you to get a good sense of how the employee is valued.  I’ve always asked this question and have been surprised to get a “no, I would not re-ire them” after getting positive answers to all of my other questions.

If someone does say that they wouldn’t rehire the person, always ask why.  I think that the answer is always very telling.  I’ve heard things like, “this job isn’t the best fit for their career interests”, or “they were bored in this job”.  You can then ask follow up questions in order to get a sense of whether you are getting an accurate reference.

This is my list of the best questions to ask based on what has been helpful to me and other managers over the years to know about a candidate before making a hiring decision.

Consider this a core set of questions; there may be other questions that you’ll need to ask based on the job or the applicant.

Always be sure that the questions asked help you to better assess the applicant’s qualifications for a job.

Similar to interview questions; stay away from questions that are personal in nature.

As always, thanks for reading.

Until then, thanks for your support!

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