Reference checks are a great way for employers and hiring managers to confirm candidates have been honest in the hiring process and to hear more about the character of a candidate from someone who knows them well. Some former employers won’t offer much information except start and end dates, salary and job title. Others will share stories about the candidate’s work ethic, attitude, attendance record and job performance. Here are important questions to ask when you’re conducting reference checks.

Ask for the facts

First, ask to confirm the facts. If it’s a larger company and you’re directed right to HR, this might be as far as you get. Have them confirm the dates of employment and why the candidate left the company. Ask for their job title, responsibilities, salary and whether they were promoted while employed there. Find out whether they missed work, were late, or if there were any issues that affected their job performance.

Ask about attitude and cohesiveness

Did they mostly work alone or as part of a team? And if they were part of a team, how did they support their co-workers? And it’s important to learn how they handed stress, conflicts or other setbacks. Were they able to push it aside and persevere or did they dwell in the memories of their failures?

Ask about job performance

What accomplishments did they have while working at that company, and on the flip side, what struggles did they have? Find out what happened at performance review time—did they make improvements when they needed to? And if they supervised other employees, ask about their management style. If you can, share the job description for the position you’re currently considering the candidate for and inquire whether the reference thinks that job would be a good fit for them.

Ask about character

When you ask about strengths and weaknesses, ask how they compensate for those weaknesses. Are they eager to learn more and improve on them? Or do they use them as an excuse when something doesn’t go their way. And finally, ask whether they’d rehire the candidate again if given the opportunity.

Consider writing a letter

Some employers ask for references in writing, so they have a record they can refer back to, instead of relying on notes they jot down during a phone conversation. Again, your letter should ask to confirm the facts—work history, qualifications and readiness for employment. Assure the former employer that any information they share will be kept confidential, and it’s best to attach a signed release from the candidate authorizing the exchange of that information.

For more tips on checking references and completing due diligence on job candidates, contact PrideStaff St. Pete Clearwater today.

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