Sample Reference Check Questions

What are the standard reference check questions that potential employers ask as part of an employment check?

As a job candidate you can plan and manage your job references for best results. As an employer you can accurately look closely at the candidate's suitability.

Experience has shown that there is a set of commonly asked reference questions that a prospective employer should use when conducting a verbal employment reference check on a candidate.

These questions provide valid information on a candidate's suitability for employment.

If you are looking for a sample reference check form to use you can go directly to this in-depth reference check form template

The basic reference form at telephone reference check provides an easy format for a quick assessment of the candidate's suitability.

30 Standard Reference Check Questions

You can develop your own effective reference check form by selecting relevant questions from this list.

  1. What was (candidate's) period of employment?
  2. Please outline (candidate's) position and responsibilities.
  3. Reviewing (candidate's) resume, does this job title and job description match the position that the candidate held?
  4. What was (candidate's) reporting structure?
  5. If (candidate) did not report to you, what was your working relationship?
  6. How long have your worked with /known (candidate)?
  7. What was (candidate's) reason for leaving your company?
  8. Can you tell me (candidate's) salary at the time of leaving?
  9. Please rate (candidate's) reliability.
  10. How would you describe (candidate's) honesty and integrity?
  11. How did (candidate) get along with co-workers and management?
  12. If (candidate) supervised/managed any employees, how would you describe her/his supervisory/management skills?
  13. Describe (candidate's) ability to handle pressure? Can you give me an example?
  14. Ability to organize, prioritize and manage time?
  15. Ability to handle conflict?
  16. Ability to work as a team member?
  17. How would you rate (candidate's) communication skills?
  18. How has (candidate) displayed initiative?
  19. Please describe (candidate's) work ethic.
  20. Please rate (candidate's) problem-solving skills.
  21. How would you describe the quality of (candidate's) work?
  22. Can you tell me about (candidate's) flexibility with regard to job tasks and working conditions?
  23. What do you consider (candidate's) key strengths?
  24. What would you consider to be (candidate's) areas for improvement?
  25. What would you say was (candidate's) biggest accomplishment while working at your company?
  26. How would you rate (candidate's) overall job performance?
  27. Was (candidate) ever promoted while working at your company?
  28. (Candidate) is being considered for the following position, do you think he/she is a good fit?
  29. Theoretically, would you re-employ him/her?
  30. Is there anything else you would like to add about (candidate)?

Top Tips for Asking
Reference Check Questions

  • Depending on the position the candidate is interviewing for, various other reference check questions can be asked about the skills and abilities that are required in the new job.
  • For example customer service skills, technical skills, computer skills, sales skills can be specifically explored in the reference check. You can use the job skills list to determine which reference check questions to ask.
  • Always check the title and designation of the reference with reception before you are put through.
  • When checking job references it is advisable to probe to clarify answers, for example:"Can you tell me why you describe his reliability as average?"

All About Background Checks

Do employers really check references?

Yes, they do!

When choosing your references make sure that they are able to answer these type of reference check questions about you.

Use your knowledge of the position and prospective employer to discuss with them any possible questions that need clarification.

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