Reference check best practice
Reference checking must be precise, but you don’t need to overthink or overcomplicate it. Fundamentally, you’re trying to ascertain four things:
- Is the candidate as good as they say they are?
- Do their skills apply to the specific challenges we have?
- How can I get the best from them?
- Are there any hidden red flags?
Of course, you want to cover off the questions of fact, such as employment, job title, pay, responsibilities, direct reports, and finishing date. But here are some other questions it pays to ask:
- What’s the best way to successfully manage the candidate?
- What makes the candidate a good fit for us?
- What stands out as the biggest accomplishment of this candidate while they worked with you?
- How has the candidate surprised you?
- Where are the candidate’s areas for growth or improvement?
- If you could rebuild your company with only 10 people, would the candidate be in that group?
- Finally, you can always ask, point blank: Would you recommend this candidate for the role?
Reference checking is often viewed as a formality by hiring teams, but as this article from Harvard Business Review attests, ignoring proper due diligence can result in disastrous hiring decisions.
It recommends that you first gather feedback from internal team members who have met the candidate, and use those insights to form good follow-up questions for references.
Looking for a good reference check template to get started? XREF has a reference check template generator that can give you questions based on industry, role, and competencies.