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These are the questions you should be asking a candidate’s referees


4 March 2021 at 4:18 pm
Maggie Coggan
We get some advice on how you can get the best picture of your candidate possible 


Maggie Coggan | 4 March 2021 at 4:18 pm


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These are the questions you should be asking a candidate’s referees
4 March 2021 at 4:18 pm

We get some advice on how you can get the best picture of your candidate possible 

It’s very easy as a recruiter to get caught up in a great candidate application. 

A well written CV and a confident interview are all important indicators of whether or not someone is right for the job, but as recruiters all know, calling up references to cross-check the achievements, experience, and working style the candidate has told you about is a critical last step. 

But to get the right information, you need to be prepared with the right questions, and ask them in the correct way. We share some tips. 

Verify the information 

Calling up a referee is all about verifying the information told to you by the candidate. Helen Green from Career Confident advises that you ask questions aimed at understanding the candidate’s work performance, their greatest strengths, communication style, problem solving capability, reason for leaving the employment, and importantly areas they feel the candidate might benefit from further professional development in. 

“I would always ask whether they would have any hesitation in re-hiring this person,” Green says. 

Relevance is key 

So you aren’t wasting your time, ensure you are asking questions that are directly relevant to the role you are hiring for. 

“Be clear about the position you are hiring for, key demands of the role and importantly your organisation’s culture,” Green explains. 

“I would also ask an open-ended question such as what they enjoyed most about working with the candidate and how the candidate was regarded by colleagues and clients.”

Sifting through the exaggerations 

Asking the referee specific questions backed up with examples is a really great way to sift through any white (or straight up) lies and exaggerations that the candidate may have made during the interview process.

It’s also important to gauge what kind of relationship the candidate and the referee have, as this will impact the answers they give. 

“Ascertaining the relationship between referee and candidate is important. If in doubt, ask your candidate for additional referees related to the position in question,” Green said. 


Maggie Coggan  |  Journalist  |  @MaggieCoggan

Maggie Coggan is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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