Questions To Ask When Checking a Reference

  1. What is the applicant’s name?
  2. Who were the applicant’s supervisors, department managers, and co-workers?
  3. Who were the applicant’s clients or customers?
  4. What is the actual legal name of your business?
  5. In which department or unit was the applicant employed?
  6. What were the applicant’s dates of employment?
  7. What was the applicant’s job title?
  8. What were the applicant’s working hours?
  9. Did the job require shift work?
  10. What were the essential duties and key functions of the job?
  11. How much did the applicant earn during the course of employment?
  12. What were the starting and ending salaries?
  13. How many pay raises did the applicant receive?
  14. How would you characterize the applicant’s job performance and productivity?
  15. What was the applicant’s attendance record? His history of punctuality?
  16. How would you characterize the applicant’s relationship with co-workers?
  17. How would you characterize the applicant’s relationship with customers or clients?
  18. Did the applicant have a good attitude? A good outlook? A good disposition?
  19. How did the applicant’s job come to an end?
  20. If terminated, why was the applicant terminated?
  21. What would you say were the applicant’s strengths on the job?
  22. What were the applicant’s weaknesses?
  23. Are you aware of any issues that impacted the applicant’s performance on the job?
  24. Did the applicant receive any promotions during the tenure with your firm?
  25. Did the applicant receive any demotions or disciplinary sanctions while working for you?
  26. If disciplined, what were the circumstances?
  27. Did the applicant have any supervisory power over others?
  28. How many people did the applicant supervise?
  29. How would you rate the applicant’s supervisory skills?
  30. Have you had an opportunity to observe the applicant under stressful conditions?
  31. Does the applicant handle pressure well?
  32. Did you have a performance evaluation system at your firm?
  33. Was the application evaluated?
  34. What were the highlights of the evaluation?
  35. May I obtain copies of the previous performance evaluations?
  36. Do you think of this applicant more as a solo worker or a team player? Why?
  37. What would you say were the applicant’s biggest challenges at your place of employment?
  38. Do you see any areas of improvement for this application?
  39. The applicant is being considered for the job of [fill in] at our company. This job involves [describe job duties].  Do you think the applicant would be suitable for this kind of work?
  40. Is the applicant eligible for rehire at your company? Why or why not?
  41. Who else would you recommend that I speak with concerning this applicant?
  42. Is there anything else about this applicant you wish to mention, or that might assist us in our selection process?

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Licensed as a private detective, Mark Guralnick is a former investigative news reporter, and leverages these skills and experiences to deliver excellent client service while finding smart, practical, cost-effective solutions.

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