How to Ask a Job Reference Questions. Contacting job references can be time consuming, especially if you have numerous promising candidates for a position. Knowing how to ask a job reference concise questions designed to elicit genuinely helpful information can ease the time crunch. Consider asking some standard questions of all job references.
Determine the candidate's role at his previous job. You can accomplish this by asking questions pertaining to the candidate's former responsibilities, or what their job entailed.
Find out whether a reference thinks a candidate is qualified for your vacant position. Describe the position briefly and ask whether the reference believes that the candidate possesses the characteristics needed for such a job. Follow up with a query about the applicant's strengths and weaknesses.
Discover what type of supervision your candidate has worked with and how she responded to it. This can be done by telling a job reference about the management of the potential job and asking if it's similar to the atmosphere in which she previously worked. If the style is different, ask the reference to describe the administrative style of his workplace.
Ask about the applicant's reliability. This can cover a variety of areas from his attendance record to his ability to meet deadlines. This line of questioning can easily segue into queries regarding the candidate's ability to take initiative or work independently. Ask if the candidate collaborated and interacted well with colleagues.
Inquire about the candidate's response to performance reviews and ability to incorporate suggestions into his work habits. It's also a good time to ask if the employee dealt well with organizational changes or was flexible when faced with policy changes.
Wrap up your questions by asking about the candidate's reason for leaving his previous position, whether the reference would rehire the employee and whether she thinks you should hire him. You'll gain some insight into his relationship with his former employer. Verify that what he told you matches with the company's impression of his departure. Finally, ask the contact whether there is anything else she would like to tell you about the applicant.
Make sure to keep a written record of all conversations to put in a candidate's file.
Be aware that it is the policy of certain companies to solely provide neutral information. As such, some references will only confirm a candidate's dates of employment and reveal no further details.