5 Employment Reference Check Questions You Should Be Asking To Make Better Hiring Decisions

Insider information from a candidate’s references can help you know more about their personality, work ethic, employment history, amongst other things (which you wouldn’t necessarily get from other employee background verification means).

The verification of a candidate’s references is a crucial component of the hiring process. Mostly, vetting your potential employee’s recommendations with reference check questions will help you know if they’re the right fit for your organisation, the open position they’ve applied to, and the work culture.

But employment reference check questions can do more. Insider information from a candidate’s references can help you know more about their personality, work ethic, employment history, amongst other things (which you wouldn’t necessarily get from other employee background verification means).

So, what are some of the reference questions your hiring team should be asking? Let’s find out.

Question #1 — What were some of the candidate’s strengths?

When checking an employee’s work references, one of the most crucial questions to ask is, “What good did this individual do?” You can tell the genuine from the bogus with this aid. Even if a fantastic employee has some flaws, that doesn’t make them a terrible employee in general.

Inquire about their abilities, accomplishments, and qualities to gain a clearer idea of how closely they blend with the culture and values of your business. Ask them about their inadequacies as well, but don’t just concentrate on it.

Question #2 — Were there any weaknesses?

Inquiring about your candidate’s shortcomings is also a crucial step in the reference check procedure. Applicants must be questioned about how they overcame their flaws and whether there have ever been situations wherein they failed to deliver promises.

Whenever a prospect has succeeded in addressing their flaws and grown from them, it is possible that they will do so again in the future.

Questioning the candidate’s reference is an opportunity to obtain more information as to why they weren’t. As the prospective employer, you shouldn’t be reluctant to inquire about what hampered their selection.

Employing this tactic would assist your hiring managers in avoiding costly errors that could result in them wasting time and money looking for the ideal employee.

Question #3 — What kind of work was assigned to the candidate?

The objective of asking this question to a reference is to know if they can handle all the tasks assigned to them. Your judgement and hiring processes can be guided, depending on the response you receive.
For instance, you could cross-check the performance of the candidate in a certain niche (say marketing) with their ex-employer. If you get to know that they’re not up to the mark, then you can either let them go or train them.

If they belong from a different field altogether but have applied to a new role — such as a sales professional applying for a product-related role — then you should probably assess their skill sets by asking their reference(s). Even if they don’t have work experience in the new domain, their skills could be something that you can hone with appropriate skilling.

Question #4 — How did the candidate perform?

This is one of the most crucial inquiries you may make during a reference verification. It can assist in determining whether they are a good fit for your business, and if they have committed any offences that would limit their ability to contribute fully to your operation.

Pay close attention to how they performed in comparison to other candidates in the same role. It’s probably best for you to avoid hiring an individual who served at their previous organisation for a period not exceeding 3 years, because they might have been let go and replaced by someone else who could do a better job..

Question #5 — Would you rehire the candidate if given the chance?

Employment reference check questions such as this are crucial since it reveals the applicant’s attitude as an employee. You get to know first-hand if the candidate has a profound sense of ownership and accountability, and that they fully understand how their work ethic affects others within the team.

A reference’s hasty yes/no response may indicate that they are unwilling to discuss the matter further. Another likelihood could be that they’re lying to you which is a straight-up indicator for you to steer clear.

The reference could also potentially state that they’re unsure. It may be an adequate answer, but if somebody expresses it without explaining why they’re unsure, it might suggest that they have very little faith in the applicant’s potential as an honest and hard-working employee.

Reference checks are crucial for any hiring process, and should be used along with employee background checks. Keep in mind that there aren’t really any questions you cannot ask references; you must always prioritise their work ethic, personality, and achievements which become even more important for high-level positions within your organisation.

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