A reference check is an essential part of the hiring process. Reference checks help employers by verifying that a candidate has been truthful during the interview process, including validating that all the information on the application is correct. Another benefit of a reference check is ensuring that a candidate can competently perform the tasks that are required as outlined in the job description.

Here is a list of questions that will help confirm that you are hiring the best candidate for your organization.

How would you describe the candidate’s reliability?

This question is an indicator of punctuality and if the candidate is a self-starter. When asking this question, it is a good idea to find out how long the reference has known the candidate and the nature of their relationship. Asking constructive questions allow for a comprehensive view of a candidate and their experience.

What are the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses?

When asking the candidate what his or her weaknesses are in comparison to the answers provided by the reference, it will disclose if the candidate is self-aware and if the candidate is coachable. It is also a good idea to have the reference provide specific examples in describing each characteristic. Depending on how the reference answers the question, a hiring manager can discern if the weaknesses are skill-specific or behavioral.

Does the candidate have good listening and communication skills?

Having strong communication skills is fundamental in any role. This question is an indication of how the candidate takes direction and if in a supervisory role can communicate with the team. Again, asking the reference to provide examples especially if hiring for a leadership position. Open dialogue on all levels is imperative from small projects to larger scale tasks.

Did the candidate work independently or with a group of people?

Depending on the position that a hiring manager is seeking to fill, this question can determine how well a candidate is at being self-directed. It answers the question, does the candidate require a lot of supervision? Also, if the candidate is flexible and a team player while working in a group. Determining if a candidate has a broad skill set will be helpful when seeking promotions in the future.

Would you rehire the candidate?

This is a straight-forward question. If a reference states that a candidate is re-hirable, it is a positive sign that a candidate had a positive tenure with his or her prior organization. It also implies that the candidate has strong working relationships with co-workers and is seeking an opportunity to gain additional skills and responsibilities to grow in their career. At the end of a conversation with a candidate’s references, invite the individual to email any additional comments that may be relevant or helpful.

Reference checks establish a candidate’s credibility. It is a helpful resource that helps a hiring manager gain insight into how well a candidate will perform in a position. A reference check paints a picture and gives a well-rounded view of a candidate. Asking the right questions is the difference in hiring the right or the wrong candidate, as there are many components in making certain that a candidate has a successful future with your organization.