Reference Check Questions

Category: Newsletters Published on Jun 23 2016



I know the person I would like to hire but I need to check references. What kinds of questions would be helpful to ask when checking references?


Jordan, PA




Checking references is a very important part of the hiring process. I have changed my mind about a candidate based on information provided by a reference.


Before you make the call, you should be aware that due to legal reasons many past employers will not provide much information. In fact, they are unlikely to say anything negative about this person even if they had a terrible experience or the individual stole from them before they were fired.


However, it’s still important to call and ask the following questions (even if they decline to answer). Why? First, you never know what they may volunteer to tell you. Second, you may learn a great deal just by reading between the lines when they provide comments.


If you are contacting a past employer, ask:

 - How do you know the candidate?

 - When was he / she employed here? (Beginning and ending dates) - What was his / her ending wage?

 - Why did he / she leave?

 - Would you rehire him / her if you had the opportunity?

 - Anything else you would like to share?


Note: employers may only confirm or disconfirm employment dates and wages that you supply, so have them ready.


If you are contacting a personal reference or previous coworker:

 - How do you know the candidate?

 - How long have you known him / her?

 - Candidate is applying for the position of ______, what special skills or abilities will make him / her a good addition to our staff?

 - What do you think the biggest challenge in this position will be for him / her?

 - Anything else you think I should know before I make my decision?


You will want to contact at least 2 – 3 references. Past employers are great to prove employment but rarely share truly useful information. Personal references will help to fill in the gaps.


I’d love to hear your favorite reference checking questions. And I’d love to hear about your most interesting results when doing reference checks! Visit RedKnight Consulting’s Facebook page and leave a post today!


Good luck!