The Best Ways to Check Candidate References During the Hiring Process

Three Types of Company Differentiators That Actually Work Morris Bixby

Checking candidate references is an important part of the hiring process. Verifying the information your top candidate provided ensures its accuracy. This helps prevent unpleasant surprises from coming up after the candidate accepts your job offer.

Talking with the candidate’s previous supervisors, managers, colleagues, and coworkers provides a clearer idea of what working with the candidate is like. This improves your odds of hiring a candidate who fits your company culture, performs well, and reaches business goals.

Discover some of the best ways to check candidate references during the hiring process.

Notify Candidates That You Check References

Let all candidates know upfront that reference checks are part of the hiring process. This encourages truthful answers during the interview process.

Share that your company asks only job-related questions. This shows your organization complies with all applicable laws and regulations when checking candidate references.

Provide the References with the Candidate’s Responses

Ask each candidate during the interview process what their references are likely to say about them. Then, share with each reference what the candidate’s response about them was.

For instance, “Lisa mentioned you think she was a top performer who excelled at being a team player.” Wait for the reference to respond to your statement.

Perform the Reference Checks Yourself

Check the references of any candidates you want to add to your team. Since you understand the job duties and requirements, you likely have questions that others may not think of.

Contacting a professional at your level encourages them to provide honest, detailed answers about the candidate. It also promotes insight into how to best manage the potential team member.

Ask Relevant Questions

The reference check questions you choose depend on the job requirements and the information discussed during the interview process. The following are questions that may be relevant:

  • What were the candidate’s main responsibilities?
  • What were the candidate’s most notable skills or qualities?
  • What were the candidate’s weaknesses?
  • How did the candidate respond to constructive feedback?
  • Would you rehire the candidate? Why or why not?

Watch for Red Flags

Look for warning signs when checking candidate references. The following may be concerning:

  • Negative feedback: If a reference does not endorse a candidate, find out why. The reference may have a personal issue with the candidate that does not involve their professional performance. Talk with other references for additional candidate feedback.
  • Inconsistency with the candidate’s response: If a reference provides information that differs from what the candidate shared, ask the reference more direct questions. This clarifies whether you are misinterpreting their response. If the discrepancy is significant, ask the candidate to explain why.
  • Unrealistically positive references: If the feedback appears too good to be true, it probably is. The references should be able to share something the candidate could improve on. Otherwise, the reference likely is not providing a clear picture of the candidate.

Partner with a Staffing Agency

When you make Morris Bixby Group part of your hiring process, we check our candidate references for you. Find out more today.


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