5 Top Questions a Reference Checker Can Ask
When contacting a reference, it is as important to listen to the undercurrents of the conversation as the words themselves. As renowned businessman Peter Drucker said, ïThe most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.ï Ask the questions that get you the answers you need while also getting a feel for answers you want. Here are five questions a reference checker can ask that will give plenty of information about the candidate being considered while also providing insight about his or her own culture and ability to get the job done.
How Do You Know the Candidate
One of the best questions a reference checker can ask is regarding the nature of the relationship. This establishes the connection between the candidate and the reference in order to better understand the perspective you are about to be given. If the relationship was not one in which they worked with one another but were simply casual or social acquaintances, then you will know to put little weight on the reference’s opinions on the applicant’s work habits and skills. It also allows you to get a better understanding as to whether the two worked closely on a regular basis and possibly in a boss-subordinate role, which can be greatly beneficial in gaining insight towards the candidate’s work ethics, skill set and level of experience.
How Long Did You Work Together
A reference checker can ask — and should ask — how long the two worked together. Knowing the length of time will help immensely in determining whether the reference is truly equipped to be answering questions regarding the applicant’s role in the company. If they worked side by side for a few weeks or months, he or she is less qualified to answer those questions. However, if the work relationship was one that lasted years, the credibility increases drastically and you should take more of an interest in what the reference has to offer.
What Were the Candidate’s Responsibilities
A reference who worked with the candidate for an extended period of time should have no trouble describing the day-to-day tasks performed. If your reference is not able to offer in-depth descriptions, it is likely they worked less closely than what has been suggested, or for a shorter amount of time. As the responsibilities are described, take note of the candidate’s resume and any notes you have taken on skills the candidate has claimed to have used in the prior position. If the responsibilities being described by the reference do not match up with those told to you by the candidate, this could suggest inaccuracies in the resume.
What Would Help the Candidate’s Professional Growth
Asking a reference what would help the candidate’s professional growth and development allows for insight as to whether the position being offered is a good match. This could help you verify whether the candidate is over or under qualified and will be challenged in the position. If the reference suggests higher levels of challenge than that which is offered with your company in this role, you may risk having an employee who outgrows the position quickly, resulting in turnover and yet another lengthy hiring process. However, it is also possible to take the reference’s suggestion into consideration to help tweak the position to better fit a candidate who has the skills and experience you are seeking to ensure the longevity of their employment within your organization.
Would You Hire the Candidate Again
Asking whether the reference would hire the candidate again allows you to get a feel for whether the candidate had trouble getting along with others or whether they had difficulties with the job itself. If he or she would be welcome back, a reference checker can ask a follow up regarding what type of position the company would or would not consider for the person. This is also telling as it suggests the applicant left on good terms as opposed to leaving due to conflict. If the person is still currently with the company, ask the reference why the candidate is considering a job change. The tone of a person’s voice can go a long ways towards helping you understand the candidate’s relationship with employers, giving insight as to whether they play well with others.
It is not necessary to keep a reference on the line for a lengthy, drawn out conversation; there are plenty of questions a reference checker can ask that can result in a plethora of insight and information being given. Ask the right questions and focus on what is and is not being said to get the most out your call.