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Reference Check Form Template

Monday, June 21st, 2021

HR Manager emailing a Reference Check request

Conducting quality reference checks can be a daunting task. Hiring managers have to take their time and energy into consideration when conducting the interviews. It takes a lot of effort to make the best hiring decision for their company! This process entails asking open-ended questions during an interview-style conversation with your references so you can squeeze all the information possible from them before moving on to another one.

The VIVAHR team understands that screening and interviewing are not always the most exciting parts of a job search, so we make sure to send potential employers all their information via email or phone. This way, it doesn’t take up any of your valuable time!

What is a reference check?

Most employers ask for references as part of the application process. Most businesses conduct background checks to verify the accuracy of the information and discover more about a candidate’s skills, background, and previous employment experiences.

The pros of a reference check?

Applicant reference checks can help weed out candidates that might not be a good fit for your company or organization. The applicant may have exaggerated their qualifications in the interview. Still, if you speak to the references they provided and can verify they’re true, this should give you pause before hiring them. If all of their references (from past jobs) say they had frequent tardiness issues, then it might be best to shy away from hiring them.

Applicant reference checks can also check whether the candidate does drugs or has used illegal substances before—a big no-no for most employers. Your company needs to know how well someone performs under pressure when considering what scenarios employees will face.

The cons of a reference check?

Applicant reference checks are generally reliable if the screening process is thorough, but they can also be expensive.

Most people find the idea of reference checks to be invasive and intrusive. In addition, since a reference check has usually been done on the company level for potential new hires, these types of checks can lead to candidates not being considered because they have had issues with other organizations that turned out to be unrelated.

Reference checks are often conducted with an interview-style approach which is time-consuming and may even involve polygraphs or lie detector tests. In contrast, a pre-employment screening test takes approximately thirty minutes to get detailed information about a candidate’s past without revealing any personal information from potentially experiential sources.

What is the best way to perform applicant reference checks?

Get the applicant’s permission before reaching out to their references (unless there are exceptional circumstances), and ensure that you specify when you will contact them during the interview process. Reference-check. It’s important to remember that current employees who an outside firm has reached should not give any other colleague or employee opinions in the company.

An applicant reference check can also result in legal/HR ramifications for the interviewer if they reveal sensitive company information. Be sure to ask precise questions about applicants, including past jobs, current positions, where they want their future goals to be, and their personal career goals (including a potential aspiration of career growth and advancement opportunities at your organization).

How many questions should I include with the applicant reference checks?

The number of questions varies depending on the position and the length of time at their past position.

For positions that require a substantial amount of research, qualifications, and previous experience to apply for the job, it is reasonable to expect more than 2-3 questions. Ideally, employers should include at least 4+ questions to get a clearer picture of potential hires. For positions with fewer requirements, there should be less emphasis put on reference checks. Job seekers will need to consider the prevalence of specific jobs/industry sectors known for their rigorous verification process when applying.

  1. What do they think of the applicant’s work ethic?
  2. What do they think of the applicant’s reliability in fulfilling their duties?
  3. How does the applicant handle stressful situations?

Example reference check questions

  1. What position did the applicant hold in your company?
  2. What was their time of employment at your company?
  3. Are they eligible for rehire?
  4. What was the applicant’s reason for departing your company?
  5. What were the applicant’s primary responsibilities while working at your company?
  6. How was their quality of work when completing their primary responsibilities?
  7. What would you say is the applicant’s biggest strength?
  8. What would be the applicant’s most significant need for improvement?
  9. Overall, how would you rate their work performance from 1-10? (1 is poor, and 10 is excellent.)
  10. How did they get along with co-workers?
  11. How would you characterize the applicant’s promptness and reliability?
  12. Is the applicant better with details or communication skills?
  13. How would you describe their communication with customers or clients?
  14. The applicant is being considered for the following position. Do you think they are a suitable fit?
  15. Is there any additional information you would like to add concerning this applicant?
Joshua F.
Redline Electric & Solar

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Conducting quality reference checks can be a daunting task, especially because they require so much time and effort for the hiring manager. Reference checks entail asking open-ended questions during an interview-style conversation with your references so you can squeeze all the information possible from them before moving on to another one. Use our Reference Check Form Template as a guide. We want you to feel confident about what is coming up next!

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