Reference checks are an important part of the hiring process; they can help you avoid making hiring errors and increase the chances appointing a candidate that comes highly recommended. Chances are the candidate will only give you a referee they know will give you a glowing report of them.

So, it’s vital that you know how to check references. Speaking to a referee on the phone can give you a lot more insight than asking for a statement via email. However, bear in mind that many organisations limit what their employees can say, they might only be able to confirm the basics – an employee’s length of service etc.

Before contacting the referee, think about what you need to know about the candidate. Are you most interested in their performance at their previous organisation, or is your priority finding out how well they work in a team? Below are some suggested questions to ask the referee:

  • When did the candidate work for you?
  • Why did they leave your organisation?
  • What was their position and main responsibilities?
  • Did they supervise anyone?
  • Would you rehire them?
  • What was their biggest achievement?
  • Did they work well in a team?
  • Did you conduct any appraisals for them?

Some employers feel that a candidate’s reference is the maker or breaker and others don’t consider them wholly worthwhile, but however you feel about checking references, when conducted properly they can be an essential tool in your hiring process.

For more information on the interview process take a look at our advice section. Are you currently recruiting candidates remotely? Download our free eBook "Running your recruitment process remotely: A complete guide" now to get more practical tips for both online recruitment and onboarding.