The 10 Best Questions To Ask When Checking References

A hasty hiring decision can be costly. Take the time to do your due diligence to ensure that you hire the right person for the job. Rushing to hire will only get you into trouble.

recruitment-to-onboarding-cycle Besides social media checks, background checks, and the standard job interviews, you should always call a job candidate’s references. The reference check is your first and sometimes only opportunity to learn about a candidate from an outside source.

Not only do reference checks allow you to verify facts from resumes, cover letters, and interviews, but they also provide you the opportunity to learn about a job candidate through the eyes of another professional. This can be a make or break moment for the job candidate.

It’s your responsibility to ask a job candidate for a list of professional references. Remember that references listed by a job candidate are who they want you to contact, but if you know someone else to call, feel free to contact them instead. It’s usually easier to trust someone you know than to take the word of someone you’ve never met.

checking-references Our advice… even if you think the candidate is the perfect fit – just pick up the phone and make a call. Give the reference a bit of background about why you are calling. Tell them who you are, what company you work for, and supply any other pertinent info. Then it’s time to dive into the questions.

Feel free to ask any questions that relate to the job, but remember that any questions about protected classes (race, age, sex, etc.) that are illegal to ask in an interview are also off limits during a reference check.


  1. Can you verify the job candidate’s employment, job title, pay, and responsibilities? Why did they leave that job?
  2. How do you know the job candidate?
  3. What makes the candidate a good fit for this job?
  4. If you had the opportunity, would you re-hire this job candidate? Why?
  5. What are the candidate’s biggest strengths and weaknesses?
  6. Did the candidate get along with their co-workers and management?
  7. Tell me what it’s like to work with the job candidate.
  8. What advice can you give me to successfully manage the job candidate?
  9. What else do I need to know about the job candidate that I didn’t already ask?
  10. Who else should I speak to about the candidate that can provide different insight?During the phone call, listen carefully for any red flags. Take note of who you called, when you called them, and what was discussed. In the HR world, it’s always smart to document every thing.The reference check will help you to paint a complete picture of the job candidate. Use this info to hire the best candidate for the job.


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Get a head start and have all paperwork completed before their first day! Here are some great resources we recommend reading:

Remote Onboarding
Remote Onboarding Best Practices
Remote Onboarding Checklist
Remote I9