The ultimate reference check guide
Perform reference checks to help you make informed decisions.
Reference checks are a critical step in the hiring process, providing valuable insights into a candidate’s qualifications, work style, and what they might add to your company culture. In this reference check guide, you’ll find a range of questions to ask when checking references, email and phone call templates, and a checklist to streamline the process.
Whether you’re a hiring manager, HR professional, or recruitment team member, this reference check guide consolidates everything you need to make informed decisions and ensure the right hire for your organization.
Why are reference checks important?
Go beyond the resume.
Reference checks provide valuable candidate information that goes beyond what’s listed on the resume. You can confirm candidates’ skills and experiences by speaking directly to people who have worked with them.
By speaking with references, you can verify the candidate’s achievements, responsibilities, and contributions in previous roles. This way, you can ensure the candidate’s claims align with their actual performance.
How to check references
1. Set your priorities. Before reaching out to references, define the specific information you’re seeking. Consider the skills and qualifications that are important for the role.
2. Notify the candidate. Let the candidate know you’ll be checking their references. If possible, ask for their permission to contact the provided references. This step ensures transparency and lets the candidate alert their references.
3. Prepare your questions. Craft a list of thoughtful questions tailored to the candidate and position. This preparation will help you gather more relevant information to aid in the decision-making process.
4. Reach out to references. Contact the references via email or phone to schedule a convenient time for the reference check. Be professional and polite, and be clear about the purpose of your call.
5. Conduct the reference check. During the conversation, ask your prepared questions and actively listen to the responses. Take notes and ask for specific examples whenever possible.
What to ask when checking references
The right reference check questions can help you gather valuable insights about a candidate’s skills and work style. While each reference check may require different questions, here are a few common examples:
1. How would you describe the candidate’s work ethic and reliability?
2. Can you provide examples of the candidate’s key strengths and areas for development?
3. How did the candidate handle challenging situations or conflicts in their previous role?
4. Did the candidate effectively meet deadlines and manage their workload?
5. How well did the candidate collaborate and communicate with their teammates or colleagues?
6. Can you comment on the candidate’s ability to adapt to change and handle unexpected circumstances?
7. In what ways did the candidate demonstrate leadership skills or the ability to take initiative?
8. Did the candidate display strong problem-solving and critical thinking skills in their previous role?
9. How did the candidate handle feedback and constructive criticism?
10. Would you rehire the candidate if given the opportunity?
For more great questions to ask references, check out 13 Questions You Should Ask When Checking References.
Conducting reference checks via email
Email is a convenient and efficient way to conduct reference checks. If you’re not sure where to begin, use this reference check email template to get started.
Conducting reference checks via phone call
Phone calls offer a more interactive approach to reference checks. If you’re unsure how to do a reference check call, here’s a script to guide your next conversation.
Reference check question template
Still not sure where to begin? To further assist you, we’ve created a downloadable template with an additional set of reference check questions, including answer spaces and a checklist to guide you through the reference check process.
Reference check software
Reference check software can be exceptionally useful for streamlining and automating the reference verification process. LinkedIn Talent Solutions offers seamless integration with various partners specializing in automated reference checks, making the process even more efficient. Some reference-checking software partners to consider include:
By integrating reference check software with LinkedIn Talent Solutions, you can better track your progress and further enhance your recruitment workflow.
Linkedin Talent Solutions can help you find the right candidates.
LinkedIn offers a wide range of tools and resources designed to streamline your candidate search process, reduce time spent on talent acquisition, and connect you with qualified professionals who match your hiring needs.
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