5 Questions You Should Ask Checking References

Checking a candidate’s references is an important step in the interview process. By having a conversation with a previous manager, supervisor, or even co-worker, you can gain a lot of insight into the type of employee this prospective candidate might be if you hire them.

Below we outline five must-ask questions if you are in the midst of hiring for a position at your company that can help you get to know who you are hiring.

1. Is (insert candidate name) a good listener and communicator?
Asking this question can help give you a little bit of insight into the candidate’s soft skills, whether it’d be related to work or outside of it. The answer to this question can reveal whether or not the candidate is able to speak up and voice their ideas or concerns, whether they are able to listen and ask questions when it comes to other co-workers speaking, and how they act around everyone casually in the office day-to-day.

2.  What are (insert candidate name) weaknesses?
This can help you figure out how you can make this prospective candidate successful in their new role if you should choose to hire them and whether or not they are coachable. Let’s say for example the reference tells you that the candidate felt very overwhelmed at first but was able to find themselves on track by implementing the use of a tracking system through spreadsheets – this gives you insight into what you as a company can do in the first 90 days to ensure the candidate doesn’t feel this way and can get themselves up to speed in an easier way.

3. Does (insert candidate name) work better alone or with a team?
Depending on what you are looking for, this can help you determine whether or not the candidate will fit into the personality that’s required for the role. Let’s say the role requires the new hire to be very team-oriented and work with other people most of the time, someone who prefers to work alone more may not be the best fit and vice versa.

4. Can you tell me about a time (insert candidate name) went through a challenging situation, how did they do?
The pandemic is a great example to use for this one, as these have been challenging times for both employers and employees. The answer to this question can give a lot of insight into how flexible the candidate is, how well they do with change, are they able to be trusted to do work remotely, etc.

5. Would you re-hire (insert candidate name)?
It’s a pretty straightforward question, but it will help you determine how the other company feels about the candidate leaving. If they say things like “absolutely,” “definitely,” “never wanted them to leave,” etc., then you know that they’d be a good hire.

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