A reference check is traditionally completed after a potential candidate has been successful throughout the shortlisting and interview stages and is an essential way to get feedback from their previous employers.

A reference check typically acts as a source of truth – while resumes and interviews can give you a great understanding of a candidate’s personality and experience, a reference check is a great way to gain some honest feedback on your potential candidates and achievements.

The reference check process isn’t always as easy as it seems.

Are you finding it difficult to get information out of your referee? Are you concerned they may be a friend, posing as a past manager? Here are some great tips to help you get the most out of your conversations:

  1. Start with the basics – not only does this break the ice, but it gives you information to build from. Think of asking general questions, that any real manager or supervisor would be able to answer almost instantly such as;
    1. How long did you work with the candidate?
    2. Can you please confirm the candidates job title and duties?
    3. How was their timekeeping and attendance?
    4. Who did the candidate report to?
  2. Ask open ended questions that encourage your referee to provide more than a ‘yes or no’ answer. Keep your questions open but to the point, and don’t be afraid to ask for further information.
  3. Gain information on their personality – as long as it relates to their role of course! Rather than keeping the reference check task related, gain information on their attitude. For example;
    1. How does the candidate interact with the rest of their team?
    2. What areas of development have been identified for the candidate?
    3. Would you hire the candidate again if given the opportunity?
  4. Don’t let it drag – people often talk more when they are nervous, and a referee may find completing a reference check an uncomfortable task if they aren’t familiar with the process. Keep the conversation on track, guide your referee when needed and have your next question ready.

Could you use some help with reference checks? Perhaps your business is ready to pass onboarding onto a HR Specialist? If so, feel free to contact one of Cornerstone HR’s friendly consultants!