Josephine's Personnel Services, Inc.

Checking References: 5 Questions to Ask

February 3rd, 2015

Resumes, phone calls and even interviews may not tell the full story about the quality of a job applicant you have before you. Managers should make a practice of finding out how an employee preformed in the past in order to make a comprehensive hiring decision. Here are 5 questions to ask former employers when checking references.

Photo Credit: kev-shine

Photo Credit: kev-shine

5 Questions to Ask When Checking References

  1. What were the candidate’s main responsibilities at the company?

This question is important to ask in the beginning because it will inform the rest of the conversation. If the employee had responsibilities that were limited or not applicable to the job you are hiring for, this is a big red flag.

  1. What were the dates of the candidate’s employment?

This question is simple but it is to see if the candidate is being honest on his or her resume. “Little white lies” or fudging dates of employment are easy for you to verify.

  1. Did you directly oversee the candidate?

Sometimes upper level managers and human resources representatives will be unable to recall a candidate since they did not directly manage them. Make sure the reference was the point of contact with the candidate to ensure they can give you a fair representation of their performance.

  1. 4. Why did they leave their previous position?

It’s important to know why the candidate is seeking a new job. Did they leave their previous employer on good terms or was there an issue? If there was, you should know about it before making an offer.

  1. What were some of the ways you motivated the candidate? What worked well?

Asking about the candidate’s motivations is important to see if they will respond well to your management style and office environment. You’ll be able to see how they prioritize their commitments and follow through with projects when incentivized.

To save yourself time, wait on checking references until you are ready to make a job offer to a candidate. Feel free to ask any questions about an employee’s attitude, behavior, attendance, or to dive deeper into previous questions. A reference check is an opportunity to learn more about a potential new employee to make sure you make a smart hiring decision. For more tips on hiring employees, check out other articles about interviewing on our blog.



About Josephine’s Professional Staffing

Founded in 1988, Josephine’s Professional Staffing has nearly 25 years of business success and is continuously committed to providing superior quality staffing solutions to companies in the Bay Area. We proactively and consistently search for avenues to provide staffing solutions in the field of administrative, accounting, healthcare, light industrial, technical and professional services while taking pride in each of our employees. Josephine’s Professional Staffing is a Certified Small Business Enterprise (SBE), Underutilized Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (UDBE), Woman-Owned Business Enterprise (WOSB), Economically Disadvantaged Woman-Owned Business Enterprise (EDWOSB),  and Minority Woman-Owned Business Enterprise (MWBE). We can be reached at or 408.943.0111 and are located at 2158 Ringwood Avenue, San Jose, CA 95131

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