5 important tips that you should follow when conducting a reference check


As a hiring manager, you know that reference checks are important. They help you verify information on a candidate’s resume, and they can also give you insight into how the person will perform in their new role. But what if you’re not sure what to ask during a reference check? Or, how can you ensure your conversations with references go smoothly and turn into valuable insights? In this blog post, you shall learn five tips that will help ensure your reference checking is as effective as possible.

Follow up with references by telephone

It is important to follow up with references by telephone instead of sending them a generic email. It will benefit the candidate and you if you call them directly rather than relying on email communication. If you have a candidate shortlist, then it is best to call each reference as soon as possible after receiving their information from the candidate. You need to confirm that they are still willing to be referenced for this person and that they are willing to provide information about him or her. You can also ask them whether they can provide contact details if someone wants more information about the candidate.

Ask “beyond the resume” questions

The hiring manager probably already knows your candidate’s work history, and they’ve likely read their resume. So save time asking about things you already know. Instead, ask open-ended questions that will give you an opportunity to learn more about how your candidate thinks and acts at work: “Tell me about a time when you had to solve a problem quickly,” or “How do you handle stress?” or even “What would people in the office say are your strengths?” These questions help determine whether there is alignment between what your candidate says on paper and what others say about them as employees.

Record interview comments systematically

Record all interview comments systematically. Use a template to record each interviewee’s answers, including the date and time of the interview, the names of those interviewed, and the names of anyone who referred you to them. Keep good records. You’ll need these later when it comes time to write your report or make decisions based on their information.

Compare comments across multiple interviews

In addition to comparing the candidate’s answers with your own notes, you should also compare them with the comments of other interviewers. If there are discrepancies between different interviewers’ feedback and feedback from previous interviews, then you can ask the candidate to clarify his or her responses. This will help you determine whether they are being truthful or if they have a tendency to exaggerate specific points during interviews.

Comparing candidate information across multiple interviews can help you gain insight into how well your candidates will fit in at your company and whether they will be able to meet expectations once hired.

Give feedback to the candidate on the reference check results

After you’ve conducted reference checking, you must give feedback to the candidate on time. This is because if this feedback is delayed for too long, it can give the impression that something is wrong with your company or position.

You must also deliver your feedback in person or over the phone. If you have bad news to deliver, it’s usually better to do so in person rather than via email. This will help ensure they understand exactly what happened during their interview and why they were not chosen for an offer. It also allows them to ask questions about their candidacy or hiring process.


The most important thing to remember when conducting reference checking is to be consistent and diligent. The candidate you’re interviewing may be nervous about the process and eager for feedback, so don’t rush through it or ignore any red flags that arise during your conversation with past supervisors or colleagues. Following these tips, you’ll ensure that your reference checks are as thorough as possible—without overly intrusive.

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