How to conduct Reference Checks?

Reference checks are normally conducted during the later stages of the interviewing process, with the final candidates for a position, or a little later during the initial stages of the hiring process, after the candidate has been chosen for the position.

Reference checking is a way to get to know a candidate better through the words of someone else, preferably someone who worked with the candidate before and can attest to his/her professional abilities. Reference checks are normally done through the phone and each one is unique but here are a few tips on how to behave in order to get the best outcome possible.

How to conduct reference checks:

Start your call by identifying yourself, your title, organization name and tell the person you’re calling about a reference for a candidate you’re considering for a certain position (or, if the candidate has already been approved, tell them so, be honest!).

Also, remember what your mom told you and always be polite! Ask if now is a good time to talk or if he/she would rather you called some other time (don’t be inconvenient and start blabbering before asking if you can).

Make sure to express it clearly so the person understands you’re calling him/her with consent from the applicant and that all responses will remain confidential.

Remember the be polite rule? Use it constantly, give the other party time to answer your questions – let him/her respond and absolutely do not cut them off or put words in their mouth. You’re calling for references so you want to hear what they have to say, not make they say what you want – that’s a big no-no.

It’s very important to develop your own reference check questions, according to your organization, the job being offered and the applicant being considered – there are, however, a few common examples of questions that can be asked in almost any situation:

  • How were you associated with the applicant, since when and for how long?
  • In what capacity was the applicant employed, what were his/hers job responsibilities and salary?
  • Was the applicant successful in fulfilling his or her duties?
  • What was it like to supervise him/her?
  • Was he/she a valuable member of the team?
  • What unique skill did the candidate bring to your team?
  • What were their strengths? What were their weaknesses or areas that needed improvement?
  • How would they describe this applicant’s absenteeism record in relation to other employees?
  • Did you ever find it necessary to reprimand or discipline this person?
  • If so, what were the circumstances?
  • Considering the job being applied for, would you consider the applicant suitable?
  • Why did they leave your company?
  • Would you rehire the candidate: why or why not?
  • Is there anything else you would like to add?

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Written by Isabelle Salemme, Product content manager at Pipefy. She uses her extensive Pipefy knowledge to write informative pieces teaching users to make the best of Pipefy. Besides being responsible for all product-related content, she's an avid reader, a coffee lover and a professional photographer.