Reference Checks “Seal the Deal” for Employers

Congratulations!  The interview process is complete and you have made your selection. You reflect with satisfaction, “I have identified the right person for the role.” However, a final, crucial step is needed to seal the deal:  reference checks.  Reference checks provide a tremendous amount of value.  Conducting thorough reference checks will yield important insights into your new leader from those who have worked with them in the past.  Consider the following 3 tips when preparing to make your calls.

3 Tips for Reference Checks

  1. Ask the candidate for at least three references: one previous supervisor, one peer, and one direct report. If you would like more, push for more supervisors.Reference checks seal the deal
  2. Reflect on your interviews and conversations with the candidate. Are there any areas that you are unsure of and would like clarity from those who have seen the candidate in action?  For instance, you might be curious how the candidate handles stressful situations.  Or, perhaps the role requires your new hire to exhibit influence and management skills, and you need examples from co-workers of the candidate’s approaches to both.
  3. Prepare your questions. Here are some of our favorites:
  • Describe the candidate’s strengths.
  • How did the candidate overcome any of their weaknesses?
  • Can you share with me the environment in which this person would be the most successful?
  • Can you give me an example of a project the candidate worked on, especially one where they did extremely well?
  • Now tell me about a project that didn’t go so well or one where the candidate had to overcome some barriers. What were the problems, and how did they handle them?
  • How did the candidate’s performance compare with others in a similar capacity (scale of 1 to 10)?
  • How did the candidate get along with supervisors and peers?
  • Describe the candidate’s written and verbal communication skills.
  • How would you describe the candidate’s work ethic?
  • If a suitable position were open, would you rehire the candidate?
  • Have you grown professionally from having the opportunity to work with this candidate?
  • If you could give their future manager a few tips on how to help the candidate be even better, what would those tips be?
  • Are there areas of professional development you would suggest or recommend?
  • Are there any additional comments you would like to add?

This thorough and thoughtful approach to reference checks will give you greater confidence about your selection. And, you will have insights into how to best hit the ground running with your newly hired rock star!

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