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The Questions You Need to be Asking in a Reference Check

The Questions You Need to be Asking in a Reference Check


Has a job candidate with amazing skills and glowing references come across your desk? That’s great! However, before you hire them for the position, you’ll want to check their references. This will clarify any claims you aren’t sure of. It also gives you a fuller picture of the candidate in mind.

There are two steps to a standard reference check. The first is to confirm that the information provided by the candidate is accurate. This can include:


  • education credentials
  • employment dates and history
  • job titles
  • awards
  • organization memberships.

This is also where you clarify what their previous job duties were.


For the second step, you need to fill in gaps in their work history and expand your picture of the candidate. It also helps you determine if they’re a good fit for the company. You’ll do this by contacting their references, former managers, and co-workers. This stage can give you valuable insights into whether they’re a good fit for your company.


There’s a lot to accomplish here! This process can seem daunting at first, but it doesn’t have to be. Here’s how to get accurate information for the candidate and their references:

General Interview Tips

While interviewing the candidate, have a clear list of the precise information that you’ll need. You don’t want to imply that you’re doubting their competency here. Make sure you phrase your questions like you’re making sure that they’re a good fit for the job.


Next, focus on their accomplishments. You can ask open-ended questions or try the STAR interview technique. In this technique, you ask the candidate about challenges they faced in the past and how they responded.


Finally, try to strike a professional, friendly, and polite tone. Encourage the candidate through friendly chat to enrich their examples with clear detail. This is a great chance for you to find out more about their personality, not just how they look on paper.

Questions for the Reference Check

The reference check gives you a chance to uncover a wealth of information about the client, much of which won’t be apparent on a resume. General questions include:

  • What were the exact dates of their previous employment, starting and finishing?
  • What was the candidate’s previous salary at the end of their employment?
  • What was their official job title, and in what department did they work?

Then, dive deeper into the picture. You may want to ask:


  • How long did they work with the candidate?
  • What was their working relationship like?
  • Did the candidate bring unique skills or abilities to the company?
  • How well did the candidate perform their role?
  • Did the candidate come into conflicts with others?
  • Was the candidate ever disciplined?
  • What were some of the candidate’s weaknesses? How were these addressed?
  • Would they be willing to work with the candidate in the future?
  • Is there anything else they want you to know about the candidate?

Find the Best Through Ad-Vance

A reference check is a necessary but sometimes tedious part of the candidate search. You don’t need to go through this process alone. An experienced staffing and human resource service like Ad-VANCE talent solutions can help you find the best candidates in the area. We can connect you with vetted workers in fields like hospitality, healthcare, administration, clerical, and of course temporary or seasonal staffing. Stop by our website to find out how we can help you fill your staffing needs.