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Reference Check Questions for Better Candidate Insights

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Not only is a reference check a chance to confirm the candidate’s ability to do the job but it is also a unique opportunity to learn what motivates them and how best to manage them, all in the name of retention once they enter the workplace.

To fulfil these requirements, we need to better understand our talent by not only making sure our questions are structured correctly but also including the right mix of question types in our reference checks.

The right reference check questions in your questionnaire will provide great insights for an informed hiring decision.

It is ideal that you adopt standard questions that will provide a complete picture for the candidate's reference process that provide hiring managers relevant insights and also highlight possible red flags.

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With reference checking you can get to know your candidate better

The Right Mix of Reference Check Questions

Having taken a deep dive into 17 million answers to 100,000 questions asked using Xref, we can see what type of questions generate the best insights.

We’ve noticed that tailoring the mix of questions to the candidates we’re looking for will deliver a higher volume of more valuable feedback and make for a better reference check.

The questions we’ve identified as being necessary to every reference template fall under three simple categories:

1. Essential

Essential section heading with green star

To create a strong foundation, we recommend that a reference template includes five essential questions that account for a candidate's previous employment and performance.

Ensuring the basics are taken care of means that you can build upon them with tailored questions that are more suited to each candidate and the type of role you’re hiring for.

Examples of essential questions:

1. Please detail the nature of your working relationship (i.e. direct boss, etc).

2. What roles do you think they would be suitable for in the future?

2. Personal attributes

Personal attributes section with pink person icon

These are the questions that build a picture of a candidate’s professional personality. The personal attribute questions are a good opportunity to find out what motivates them and how they might fit into the workplace culture of your company.

Example of questions that identify personal attributes:

1. Can you please rate and describe their ability to use initiative when problem-solving?

2. Please rate and comment on their ability to learn

3. Role-specific

Role-specific section heading with blue briefcase icon

Role-specific questions are used to provide insights into a candidate’s professional capabilities in light of the type of role they’re applying for. Including a tailored balance of both role-specific and personal attributes questions will ensure that you have a well-rounded reference to help you make an informed hiring decision.

Example or role specific questions:

1. Please rate and comment on their computer skills and ability to adopt new software

2. Can you comment on the level of supervision they required? How well did they work autonomously

Get your perfect mix of questions in seconds. Use our Questionnaire Template Builder!

All too often, we hear of HR pros and recruiters relying on a standard reference template that they use across the board, for every hire, at every level, in every country, at every office…. you get the picture!

While consistency is important for references taken on candidates for the same role, a lack of template tailoring means the reference process delivers less of the insights that make for a truly informed hiring decision.

With Template Builder, you can create a best-practice, tailored template in minutes and it’s completely free to use - why not give it a go?

A well balanced reference checking questionnaire

With the rise of technology, the workforce is evolving and what we’re looking for from talent is changing.

No longer is it just about the work a candidate strengths and weakness, the great success at the interview process, the possible good fit with existing team members, the similarities with a past job title or the great accomplishments listed.

In today's hiring processes we’re looking for strong interpersonal skills and the potential a person has to grow and adapt to changes in the future.

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