Reference checking has become a common practice that helps recruiters avoid bad hires and make sure candidates are open and honest when talking about past jobs and current abilities. Check out this article for a list of sample reference check questions to ask in order to predict how potential employees will perform once they get the job.

Nearly three in ten employers have caught a fake reference on a job application, according to a CareerBuilder survey. Also, 62 percent of the employers questioned said that when they reached out to a reference listed on an application, the professional contact didn’t have any positive things to say on the candidate’s behalf.

Checking references allows recruiters to confirm information the candidates listed on their application forms and resumes. Not only this, but talking to a candidate’s past managers can help recruiters determine if the applicant will fit with the team and figure out how they will perform in the future. Here’s a list of reference check questions to ask in order to gather the most accurate information about the applicant’s skills, expertise, and personality. 

1.  What is your relationship with the applicant? This question allows you to get a better idea about the professional relationship between the reference and the applicant. Figure out if this is a former supervisor or co-worker to better assess the information provided.

2.  Can you please confirm the candidate’s dates of employment, title, and responsibilities? Verifying the candidate’s job title and dates of employment is mandatory to determine if their resume is accurate. According to a survey from The Society of Human Resource Managers, 53 percent of the resumes and job applications they reviewed contained falsifications – misleading statements, fraudulent degrees, altered employment dates, inflated salary claims, inaccurate job descriptions, and falsified references.

3.  Can you please describe the candidate’s work performance in a few words? Candidates aren’t afraid to make bold statement during an interview. A former employer can attest that those claims are actually true. Encourage the reference to talk about the candidate’s work ethic and give a few details about their accomplishments in the workplace.

4.  In your opinion, what are the applicant’s strengths and weaknesses? References who worked with the candidate for a while have a better understanding about what areas the applicant could improve in and what unique qualities recommends them for the new job.

5.  What was it like to work with the candidate? Is he/she a team player? – It’s important to ask this question when the position requires the candidate to work as part of a team. If they are more inclined to work individually, they might not be a good fit for the job after all.

6.  Why did the applicant leave the position?This question likely came up during the job interview as well. Now you can determine if the candidate was honest about their reasons for leaving their former place of employment. Based on the response, you can also estimate how long the applicant might stay with a new organization.

7.  Was the candidate on-time and reliable? If the applicant was perpetually late or called in sick on more than a few occasions, it’s likely they haven’t changed. At the end of the day, no one wants to hire an employee they can’t depend on.

8.  How did the candidate respond to feedback? Asking this will help you figure out if the candidate is interested in developing their skills and growing at the new workplace.  

9.  Did the employee get along well with coworkers, supervisors, and clients? – Bad tempered employees generally foster a negative atmosphere at the workplace. Make sure the candidate is respectful and pleasant to work with. 

10.  Did the applicant supervise other employees? How was their management style? – If the position requires people management skills, asking about previous experience in this department will help you learn more about the candidate’s ability to coordinate and motivate staffers.

11.  How did the candidate handle conflict? Unfortunately, conflict is often unavoidable in the workplace. If the reference can vouch that the applicant handles conflict gracefully, this will win the candidate bonus points.

12.  Was the candidate able to work under pressure? When the job involves stress, you want to make sure that you hire someone who can cope with deadlines and solve unexpected issues as they arise.

13.  How do you think the applicant would handle these job responsibilities? Talk about the duties that come with the job and ask the reference if they think the candidate can handle them.

14.  Is there anything else you would like to add? Give the reference a chance to talk about any other relevant aspects you haven’t addressed during your questioning.  

15.  Would you rehire the applicant? The answer will help you figure out if the candidate is truly valuable and able to make a long-lasting impression on people with whom they work. 

According to Free Pre-Employment Test, The U.S. Department of Labor states that a bad hire can equal 30 percent of an employee’s yearly salary. That means that an unproductive staffer with an annual income of $40,000 can cause a $12,000 loss for the employer. It’s not worth taking the risk.

An in-depth screening process of applicants along with thorough reference checks can save your company thousands of dollars. Consider the tips above and reach out to your candidates’ former managers. They can provide invaluable insights that will help you make a more informed hiring decision.