Providing a reference is usually simple. You ask a current supervisor who knows your work well to provide a reference, you provide your reference's contact information to prospective employers, and you make sure that all relevant information you provide in an interview can be corroborated by your reference. If you are in a position to perform the reference check, however, you may not know which questions will yield the most helpful information about a candidate. Keep reading below to discover four essential inquiries you should make when reference checking. 

What work did they do on an important project?

A candidate's performance on an important project—no matter the scope of the role—can give valuable insights into how they choose to do their work. Have a reference walk you through the aspects of the project that brought out the candidate's strengths, as well as anything that proved particularly challenging. This can also serve to add another perspective to a candidate's own recounting of their work on a project. 

​How were the first few months of their time at your company?

Asking a reference to recount the candidate's initial months at the company can be another worthwhile question to ask. Learning more about how quickly they were able to pick up new skills, adapt to working as a part of a team, and take on a greater number of skills can allow you to set your own expectations for the candidate if they are ultimately hired. 

What promotions did they receive and why?

A promotion can be granted for any number of reasons. One of the things every reference checking process should include, therefore, is an overview of the promotion process and the reasons behind it. Promotions that were handed out merely on the basis of seniority should be looked at with a much different lens than a promotion that was earned through exceptional performance. 

What value do they bring to a company?

Value is hard to quantify, and in most professions is relatively subjective. That's why it's important to get an idea from a reference of the ways in which the candidate brought value to the company, both on a daily basis and over the course of their tenure. If your company defines value differently from the reference, then the reference may hold less weight. Conversely, a reference whose sense of value aligns with your own can provide the confirmation you need to hire a candidate.

Contact a reference checking service to learn more.