On the sixth week of Christmas, my recruiter gave to me – A warning – Don’t skip the reference check!

Imagine this – You’ve found the most perfect employee for your business. Their resume is amazing, they killed it in the interview and the trial shift was a breeze.

Months later, you’re noticing that their performance is slipping, and their attendance and punctuality has been problematic. How could it be that an employee could go from dream, to SCREAM (and so quickly?!)

Candidates will always put their best foot forward in the interview process, and the only way to get some honest insight into their previous performance is via a reference check.

Is a reference check REALLY worth it? Aren’t they just a waste of time?!

Not always – it really comes down to the questions you’re asking. If you call for a reference and leave the conversation open for them to fill the silence, you’re not going to get much. Often, people are very reluctant to open up if there was any issues with employment, due to risk of defamation or being responsible for a person not getting the job, however if you have a structured set of questions for the person to answer, you’ll typically get a more structured response and honest answers.

What type of questions should I be asking?

Here are some examples of questions that have previously been used by our recruitment team in their hiring processes.

Can you describe the relationship between yourself and (name) 

What were the key technical aspects of their role and how well did (name) perform them? 

What key behaviors or personal attributes were required to successfully perform in this role and how well did (name) demonstrate these? 

Who did this role require (name) to liaise with on a regular basis and how well did she communicate with them? 

What do you consider (name) main strengths? 

Please describe any area’s for improvement that you observed – eg. Where additional support or training may be required. 

What were their significant achievements whilst with your organization? 

What style of management does (name) respond best to? 

What was the level of drive and motivation displayed whilst with your organization? 

Please comment on their attendance record, including punctuality and reliability. 

Please comment on their honesty and integrity. 

Please describe (name) approach to workplace health and safety. 

Please describe as you understand it, (name) reason for leaving?