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After you’ve found a strong candidate deserving of consideration for a position, the next step you can do is to check their references. You’ve noted that the candidate’s interview went perfectly well, and their resume and cover letter are well prepared and tailored to the position. However, bear in mind that job applicants can be well-prepared, and resumes can be polished to a high degree. Checking a potential employee’s references is an excellent way to learn more about them and make the best possible hiring decision.

Checking References Best Practices

Candidates should provide at least three professional recommendations with their contact details. In an ideal situation, the references would be former coworkers or co-supervisors of the applicant. Ask for references from previous jobs if the applicant is reluctant to use one from their former position.

Set up a phone interview with each reference, letting them know that the candidate has permitted you to call them. Here are some tips to follow when calling the reference person: 

  • An email isn’t enough for an interview. More than one sentence from the reference will give you a better idea of the candidate’s character and skills.
  • Start offering a basic set of questions about the candidate to help the reference person think about it and formulate their response.
  • Give the reference a brief job description to understand the position’s requirements, your hiring criteria, and the candidate’s potential.
  • Respect the referee’s time. If you requested 15 minutes, make sure it is 15 minutes.

Create Questions

To make the best recruitment decisions, you should use your questions to gather accurate information about the applicant. Create interview questions based on the job description to elicit information about a candidate’s work ethic, expertise, background, and moral character.

Have a conversation with the reference you’re interviewing. Encourage them to think beyond the obvious. Ask the candidate how they would respond in a hypothetical situation. If you’re interviewing different candidates for the same position, a standard set of questions can be beneficial.

Sample Questions for the Reference Persons

It is important to note that the initial questions are easier and more basic than the rest. You want to incorporate the reference slowly into the discussion to add more challenging topics later.

The majority of the questions are unstructured. It’s important to ask “why” after every yes-or-no response if you’re asking a yes/no question.

The most effective technique to conclude your phone conversation is to ask the reference person if there is anything more you should know about the applicant. These catch-all inquiries might provide the reference person with a chance to explore a subject that you may not have considered before asking the question.

An example set of questions that you may ask during a reference check call are as follows:

  1. Do you know the candidate for a long time? How long?
  2. When you worked with them, how would you rate their overall job performance?
  3. What was it like to be in charge of these people?
  4. In what ways did they differ from the rest of the players on your team?
  5. Is there anything about them that sets them apart from the rest of your team members?
  6. Do you recall any areas in which you worked with the candidate to assist them to grow? Could you elaborate on it for me?
  7. Would you rehire them if given a chance?
  8. Is there anything more I should know about this person?

A candidate’s background may be gleaned by a review of their references. Verifying references is just one part of a successful recruiting strategy. As a result, you should always have a solid strategy for finding new employees.