Here are 10 questions to take your employee reference calls from ineffective to informative and revealing. You are spending a significant amount of money to recruit, hire and retain every person in your company along with the future replacement cost.

You can hire significantly better candidates and see “red flags” much quicker if you ask better questions during the hiring process and during reference checks.

Considering using this questions for your candidates. I put them in the order I’d use them.


  1. What is your relationship to the candidate? How long have you worked with the candidate?
    • This establishes a baseline for you.
  2. What were the candidate’s responsibilities, outcomes, and impact?
    • This lets you know how well the person knew the candidate and you can understand their role versus the role you need them for.
  3. (If the person managed the candidate): Could you please share with me your leadership and management style/philosophy and company culture.
    • This gives you a guide on comparing your company environment from where the candidate is coming. It also gives you a lens to understand the feedback you will be receiving.
  4. On a scale of 1-10 (one being poor, ten being extraordinary), how would you rate this candidates communication, teamwork, problem-solving capabilities? Please share a specific example that explains your rating.
  5. Where did this candidate fit in well with your company culture? Where didn’t they? (and why for both)
  6. When you worked with this candidate, when did they appear to be highly motivated (and why do think that was? when were they least motivated? What do you believe drives this candidate?
  7. What blind spots do you see with this candidate?
  8. How could have this candidate excelled more in their position? Why?
  9. How did this candidate react to feedback? What developmental feedback did you provide them? How did they react, process and implement that feedback?
  10. On a scale of 1 to 10 (one being poor, ten being extraordinary), how enthusiastically would you endorse this candidate?

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This