Questions I Ask on Reference Calls

I talked a bit about the importance of references so figured I’d share the questions I usually ask. If you have other questions you ask when doing references that you think really get at the heart of how good a candidate is, let me know.

  1. How long did X work with you?
  2. And what were they doing for you?
  3. How many other people were on your team?
  4. Among all the people on your team, where did X rank? The best? Average?
  5. In your year end discussions, what did you tell X they needed to work on?
  6. What are the key development areas that X needs to work on?
  7. Would you hire them again?
  8. How does X work with a team? Any things X needs to work on when working alongside a team?
  9. If you were me hiring X for a critical _____ role, anything you think I should know?
  10. Anything else I should have asked about?

Some of the questions are vague and even repetitive. ¬†Question #9 and #10 are often asked and then I pause. I’ve found people will fill in the pause with often very insightful and useful insights about a candidate.

I’m still learning better ways to ask questions, but besides the answer, it’s the person’s enthusiasm and tone for a candidate that is important. I’ve found that I want them to be excited about the candidate. If they’re just lukewarm and doing the reference out of obligation.

Any other good questions you ask on reference calls?

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