Get the Most Out of a Reference Check

Sometimes, it seems like checking references before hiring a job candidate is nothing more than a formality. But make no mistake: it’s an essential part of the hiring process that you should never overlook. Now that you’ve decided on a candidate, how do you get the most out of the reference checks you’re about to make?

Follow these tips to do just that:  

Double-check how the reference knows the candidate. 

You’ll always want to start a reference call by double-checking how the reference knows the candidate. This does two things: first, it confirms that you’ve reached the right person, and second, gives you an insight into how the reference is related to the candidate in terms of rank or position and how that might influence what they say.  

Start from a place of positivity. 

Begin under the premise that the candidate you’re checking up on is a great fit for the job (which they probably are if the interview process has gotten this far). If you show any doubts or skepticism about the candidate early on in the reference check, the person you’re calling will form an opinion right away. And they won’t be very likely to offer honest feedback after.  

Avoid broad questions. 

There’s no use asking broad questions like “What can you tell me about John?” You’ll get any number of answers, most of which don’t apply to the candidate’s work performance. Instead, focus on more specific questions, such as “How would you describe John’s work ethic?” or “I see that John helped implement a new security system at your company… what can you tell me about that process and his role in it?” 

Don’t supply the answers.

Sometimes, it’s easy for a recruiter or hiring manager to nudge the reference toward an answer unintentionally. Make sure not to say things like, “I think John seems like he would get along well with his coworkers… do you agree?” You won’t get much more than a “yes” in response. Instead, phrase it this way: “How have you seen John interact with his coworkers in the past?” Then, sit back and listen.  

Ask about more than just the hard skills.

You can spend time talking about the hard skills of the job you’re inquiring about, but make sure to focus on some soft skills as well. Things like communication, multitasking ability, and the ability to serve as a team player will all be crucial for the candidate’s success. So, don’t forget to ask the reference what he or she thinks about these qualities in your candidate.  

Want to have the professionals take care of hiring, interviewing, and checking references for you? That’s where we come in. Contact High Profile online or call 972-991-7900 to find the candidates that your company needs.