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Hiring the right candidate for your organization is key to its success, and reference checks are an important part of the process. While many employers consider reference checks a formality, they can provide useful information about a candidate’s work ethic, character, and potential fit for the role.

Here, we’ll look at why reference checks are more crucial than you would believe, and how to use them to make better recruiting decisions.


Key takeaways on reference checks

Continue reading to learn more about:

  1. Advantages of reference checks
  2. Steps to follow before speaking to the referee
  3. Key questions to ask for reference checks  


1. Advantages of reference checks

There are several advantages to checking references, including:

  • Candidates tend to show their best selves throughout the interview process, making it harder to establish an impartial impression.
  • Reference checks provide a helpful third-party viewpoint by providing context and extra insights into candidates’ soft skills and work habits.
  • They can help you form a complete picture of the candidate by allowing you to assess their strengths, weaknesses, and soft skills such as leadership and teamwork.
  • Reference checks may confirm the truthfulness of a candidate’s statements regarding credentials, experience, and past employment.
  • They can more effectively evaluate intangible aspects such as work habits and soft skills because they are better evaluated by those who have worked with the candidate rather than relying on their own self-awareness.


2. Steps to follow before speaking to the referee

Before contacting a referee, you should do the following:

Choose the best method of contact

When checking for references, selecting the best method of contact is critical. It is recommended to utilize the phone since it allows for spontaneous questioning and detecting specifics in the referee’s tone.


Choose who you want to talk with

It is critical to pick the ideal references to speak with based on the information you want. Select referees depending on the type of questions you intend to ask, such as someone the applicant has previously supervised or a colleague with whom they worked closely.


Why are reference checks important for recruiters?
Why are reference checks important for recruiters?

3. Key questions to ask for reference checks

It’s critical to ask correct questions throughout the reference check process to better understand the candidate’s fitness for the job. Begin by verifying their employment dates and acquiring useful information about their past position. Once these details have been confirmed, describe the position for which the candidate is being considered and then ask open-ended questions to gain more insight. These inquiries might include:


I. Can you detail some of the candidate’s strengths/weaknesses?

When discussing reference checks, an essential open-ended question is about a candidate’s strengths and flaws. This can aid in assessing their talents and identifying areas for improvement. Cross-checking their response with their interview might also help you assess their profiles better.


II. How well does the person work as part of a team?

When evaluating a candidate’s collaboration and teamwork abilities, it’s critical to get feedback from their colleagues and direct team members. This is because teamwork is a skill that relies on the opinions and experiences of others. Therefore, it is best assessed by colleagues or direct team members.

This open-ended inquiry might indicate how the applicant collaborates with others as well as if they are a suitable match for your team.


III. How well does the person handle challenges and pressure?

How candidates manage obstacles and failure might provide important information about their problem-solving abilities and resilience. Employers can ask specific questions about this from the referee.

It provides insight into how the applicant would address obstacles in a given project or endeavor. Referees who have worked closely with the applicant can provide unique viewpoints on their capacity to overcome challenges and adjust to changing circumstances.



Summing up, checking references is a critical component of the hiring process that should not be overlooked. They can help employers make informed decisions by providing valuable insights into a candidate’s past performance, work style, and soft skills.

Employers can guarantee they make a learned recruiting decision for their organization by asking the correct questions and doing comprehensive reference checks. So, spend the time conducting reference checks and utilizing the information to build a strong and capable team.

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