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Provisional Blog

What to Ask When You’re Checking References

February 14th, 2017

As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, Provisional knows one of the biggest missteps employers make when hiring is skipping the reference checking process. But considering just a few phone calls can verify – or refute – what a candidate told you, it’s well worth it. In fact, consider this statistic: According to Monster, almost 60% of employers claim that they have had to withdraw an offer of employment after receiving poor references about successful applicants.

Clearly, reference checks are a must. That said, what do you ask when you’re making those reference checking phone calls? Here are 7 questions to put on your list:

Can you confirm for me the candidate’s job title, employment dates, and responsibilities?

This question is a basic essential. It confirms that a candidate did, in fact, work at the company during a certain time period and the information they provided about their role was accurate.

What was the candidate’s performance like on the job?

A candidate may have told you they were a top performer. And that might be true. But you need to confirm these kinds of claims with the person who actually managed them. Not only that, asking this question gives you a sense of how they’ll perform in your job if hired.

Can you tell me about the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses?

Asking this question will give you some insight as to what you can expect if you hire the person for the job. It will also provide you with an indication as to how forthright a candidate was during the interview process when they talked about their own strengths and weaknesses.

What was the candidate like to work with?

Once you’ve asked about responsibilities, as well as skills and weaknesses, it’s important to also get a sense of the candidate’s personality. Asking this question will help you do that. You want to make sure you’re hiring someone who will mesh well with your culture. So if you find out they weren’t a team player, didn’t take feedback well, and a had a hard time getting along with co-workers, it’s certainly a red flag to take into account.

Why did the candidate leave?

When asking this question, you want to ensure the information the candidate told you aligns with what the reference says. In addition, asking this question can give you some insight into how long they might stay at your company, if hired, and what issues could provoke them to leave.

Would you hire them back if you could?

If there’s only one question you ask, this is the one. And if there’s any kind of pause or hesitation here, it’s an indication that the reference has some reservations. It may simply be due to conflicting personalities. So don’t put all your stock into this answer. However, if the reference does hesitate, ask why.

Is there anything else I should know about this candidate?

This is a good last question to ask to ensure you’ve covered your bases. It gives the reference a chance to offer any final input or details about the candidate you’re considering hiring.

You need to hire, but don’t have time to source, screen, and reference check candidates. Provisional can help. As one of the leading staffing services firms in Spokane, Washington, we provide customized staffing solutions to our clients all over the Northwest. Just give us a call today to learn more about how we can help you.

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