The hiring process isn't over upon the final interview or deciding on a candidate. The reference check serves as a critical validation tool for the information a candidate provides. A properly conducted reference check can prevent bad hires and verify the skills, abilities, and fit of the candidate.
In this expansive guide, we will identify the best 15 questions to ask references when validating a new hire and delve into why they’re important.
Confirming Basic Information
To begin, it's crucial to start by verifying the fundamental details provided by the candidate including employment dates, job title, and the reason for leaving their previous job.
1. Can you confirm the applicant’s job title, employment dates, and main responsibilities?
This question helps confirm the veracity of basic information shared by the candidate. It's linked to organizational accuracy and can help prevent potentially costly hiring errors.
2. Why did the candidate leave the position?
This question provides insight into potential red flags, depending on the reason for departure.
Exploring Skills and Abilities
The next set of questions delves further into the candidate's proficiencies, work styles, and context about their performance.
3. Can you describe some of the candidate’s most significant strengths?
This provides a second perspective on the candidate's self-proclaimed skills and abilities.
4. Can you mention any areas needing improvement or growth that the candidate demonstrated during their tenure with you?
This question targets potential gaps in a candidate's skills profile and can be valuable for holistically understanding the candidate.
Team Interaction and Organizational Fit
Assessing an employee's ability to socially integrate and contribute positively to team dynamics is fundamental as it impacts organizational culture and productivity.
5. Can you share how the candidate contributed to their team?
This question gauges a candidate's team skills and their ability to cooperate with colleagues.
6. How does the candidate handle pressure or stressful situations?
This is particularly vital if the prospective role involves high-stress tasks or requires effective crisis management.
Inquiring about the candidate’s past work performance gives a clear view of their track record and potential for future success.
7. Compared to others in the same role, how did the candidate perform?
This question allows for a direct comparison between the candidate and their peers.
8. What was one major accomplishment the candidate had during their tenure with you?
This question can showcase a candidate's initiative, creativity, and impact.
Integrity & Work Ethic
This is an essential factor in understanding the candidate's values and overall personality fit within the organization.
9. Can you describe the candidate’s reliability and time management skills?
This question can reflect the individual’s work ethic and dedication.
10. Based on your experience, how trustworthy is this candidate?
This may reveal insights about the candidate's ethical behavior and integrity.
Future Interactions and Concluding Thoughts
These questions wrap up the conversation, leaving room for the reference to share any additional information they deem important.
11. Would you rehire this candidate if given the opportunity?
A 'Yes' answers affirmatively to this question is one of the strongest indicators of a positive reference.
12. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the candidate that I haven’t asked?
This allows references to share insights that may not have been covered in specific questions.
13. How does the applicant handle feedback and criticism?
Feedback is crucial for personal development and growth within a role.
14. Can you describe the candidate's ability to meet deadlines?
This question imparts the candidate's time-management skills in a more practical context.
15. How did this individual demonstrate leadership?
This highlights the candidate's ability to motivate others and manage resources effectively.
By leveraging these questions during the reference check process, employers can enhance their insight into a candidate's capabilities, character, and past performance.
Furthermore, these insights can be integrated with a multi-faceted hiring strategy, utilizing pre-employment assessments grounded in organizational psychology principles for a more comprehensive candidate understanding.
Used judiciously, this information can shape individualized onboarding, training, and employee development plans.
Following this guidance will support a data-informed, comprehensive, and evidence-based approach to hiring and talent management, thereby driving successful hiring decisions that reinforce the team and performance goals.
July 12, 2023
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