Before you sign a contract with a third-party logistics provider or even with a new cleaning service, you probably ask for some case studies, read reviews online, or at least check their BBB rating. Even when choosing a lunch spot for that important meeting with your soon-to-be big account, you would tap Yelp to see how many stars it has and read a review or two. Same approach is needed to reference check before hiring anew employee.
Any time you hire a new employee, you gain an opportunity and a risk. They could end up being your best team member, making a huge difference at your company… or they could be a bad hire that costs you time, money, and morale. Before you take the leap and extend an offer, asking the right reference check questions can help you make an educated decision. Follow this formula:
[process_steps type=”horizontal” size=”small” number=”5″] [process_step title=”get context” icon=”address-book”] [/process_step] [process_step title=”verify facts” icon=”drivers-license”] [/process_step] [process_step title=”give context” icon=”newspaper-o”] [/process_step] [process_step title=”uncover red flags” icon=”flag” icon_color=”#ff003f”] [/process_step] [process_step title=”assess fit” icon=”universal-access”] [/process_step] [/process_steps]
Gain Context and Verify Facts: Questions to Ask References First
Let’s say you’re about to hire Jane, but you’re wise and decide to call her references before extending an offer. After exchanging greetings with the reference and explaining why you’re calling, start with the following introductory questions to gain valuable context:
- How do you know Jane?
- In what capacity did you work with Jane?
- How long did you work with Jane?
These questions should help you determine how heavily to weigh each reference’s answers in your hiring decision. Once you understand the person’s relationship to Jane, you can decide whether it makes sense to ask them to verify these important facts: dates of employment, job title(s), responsibilities, why Jane left (if applicable), and if Jane is eligible for rehire at that employer.
The aim here is to ensure that Jane has been truthful, but don’t just stop there. Head to the next section to uncover whether her references’ perceptions of Jane line up with her own ideas about her performance, strengths, and weaknesses.
[icon style=”lightbulb” color=”yellow”]Pro Tip: [/icon] Depending on the circumstances, and the reference’s relationship to your candidate, they may not have all the answers you need. If none of your candidate’s references can verify facts such as tenure and job responsibilities, you can usually call past employers’ main lines or HR departments to do so.
Assess Aptitude, Skills, and Fit: Five Types of Reference Check Questions
You can make a more informed hiring decision by asking the five types of reference check questions below. Insights from people who have worked with Jane can help you decide whether to hire her, better understand how to manage her, and plan for her first months on the job. Listen not only for red flags, but also for valuable nuggets on how to play to her strengths and plan for her weaknesses.
1. Offer Context (question 1)
Before you jump in, give the person some context about what you’re looking for by asking them the following question. This will set them up to answer the rest of your questions with a full understanding of what you need:
- I’m considering Jane for [job title]. She’d be responsible for [responsibilities]. Do you think she could perform well in this role, and why or why not?
Read More »How to Conduct Reference Check Before Hiring New Employee