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California State University, Long BeachCalifornia State University, Long Beach

Telephone Reference Check

Nine Tough Questions

To find the truth, you have to ask probing questions.

  1. How does the candidate compare to the person who's doing the job now? Or, what characteristics will you look for in the candidate's replacement?
  2. If he or she was that good, why didn't you try to rehire him? Or, why don't you try to induce him to stay?
  3. When there was a particularly urgent assignment, what steps did the candidate take to get it done on time?
  4. Since none of us is perfect at everything we do, please describe some of his or her shortcomings.
  5. Have you seen the candidate's current resume ? Let me read you the part that describes his or her job with your organization. (Stop at each significant point, and ask the reference for a comment.)
  6. Not all employees like everyone with whom they work. With what kind of people did the candidate have problems?
  7. On the average, how many times a month is the candidate absent from work? And, how many times a month does he or she come in late, or leave early?
  8. Who referred the candidate to your company? (It could have been a relative or a customer or client.)
  9. When the candidate was hired, were his or her references checked thoroughly? Who checked these references? And what did the references have to say?