Employee reference check templates [+background checks]

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Luke Shipley
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Employee reference check question templates

In general, as employers, you get one chance to ask a previous employer or associate questions about the candidate you're considering hiring.  Ask the wrong question/s and you run the risk of not getting the information you need to make an informed decision.

Creating employee reference check question templates can help ensure a consistent approach when carrying out reference checks, as well as helping to avoid potential issues. Reference check templates provide sample questions that employers can use, whether it's for specific roles or seniority levels. Although they are not exhaustive and should be tailored to each job role or applicant depending on the requirements of the position.

check out our check templates to get a better idea of the types of questions asked by other businesses just like yours.

what are reference check templates?

As an employer, conducting reference checks is an essential step in ensuring that you hire a qualified candidate who will be an asset to your team. Reference check templates provide a structured approach to this process, making it easier and more efficient. These templates offer a set of pre-designed questions that can be tailored to suit your specific needs. They can help you ask the right questions about a candidate's experience, work ethic, and skills sets, and ensure that you get consistent information from all your potential hires. By using reference check templates, you can streamline your hiring process and gain valuable insights into your candidates, leading to more informed decisions and successful hires.

Reference check templates are a set of questions that employers can use when carrying out candidate reference checks. They provide sample questions which can be used as a starting point to ensure consistency in the process and help avoid potential issues.

Start by choosing attributes

Choose some attributes you wish the candidate to have, these could be team-wide attributes to assess team-fit or more granular  attributes that are specific to the role.

Team attributes:

• Communication skills

• Collaboration

• Leadership potential

Role-specific attributes:

• Technical proficiency in a given area

• Organisational abilities

• Problem-solving capabilities

  • kindness

Role-specific attributes:

• Mentoring capability

• Ability to handle pressure

• Decision-making abilities

Once you have identified these attributes, create a template of open-ended questions that are tailored to each attribute. Below is an example set of questions for the attribute 'organizational abilities':

Questions about organizational abilities:

1. Can you tell me how the candidate demonstrated their ability to manage and prioritize tasks?

2. How well did they handle competing priorities or multiple assignments simultaneously?  

3. What experience do they have with project management processes and tools?

4 . Could you explain how they planned and executed a project effectively?

5. How did the candidate handle stress or difficult situations?

6. Did they follow through and complete projects on time and within budget, if applicable?

What types of questions should be included in an employee reference check template?

The type of questions you ask during a reference check will vary based on the role or seniority level of the applicant. However, some common themes include asking about their performance, skills, and competencies; any incidents they may have had at work; reasons for leaving; and references from former colleagues or supervisors. Additionally, it’s important also to ask any relevant behavioural or situational-based questions related to the job role they are applying for.

When crafting your questions, use open-ended prompts to gain more detailed information from the references. This will help provide more context and clarity when making a hiring decision. Lastly, keep your questions concise and focused on the job requirements for each candidate.

General reference question to include

Generic questions are those that you can use in any reference check. These are questions that will give you a better understanding of the candidate's work ethic, professional experience, and approach to their job duties:

• How well did they perform overall on these tasks?

• Would you re-hire them if given the opportunity? Why or why not?    

• What do you think are their biggest strengths and weaknesses?  

• In what way were they an asset to your team/organisation?

• Are there any instances where they struggled to meet expectations or deadlines, and how did they respond/handle it?

  • What were the candidate’s primary responsibilities and last job title?
  • What additional training could they benefit from?
  • How did they react and respond to feedback or constructive criticism?
  • Would you rehire them? Why or why not?

Making the most out of an employee reference check

References are invaluable and, when conducted in the right way,  can provide you with valuable insights into an applicant. Not only can  it confirm the information provided in their resume, but you can also ask more probing questions to better understand how they may perform in the role.

Use the reference check process as an opportunity to learn more about how a candidate works and to be sure they are the right fit for your organisation.

By using the right employee reference check templates and asking the right questions, you can gain more insight into a potential hire and make a more informed decision as to whether or not they are a good fit for your team. Good luck!

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