Reference Check Interview Questions

Reference check interview questions are used by employers to check candidates claims about their former employment, knowledge and experience. Asking the right reference check interview questions will help you uncover the best candidates who are also the best fit for your open job position and your company culture.

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What is a reference check interview?

A reference check interview is the interview employers conduct with candidate’s references, such as their current or former manager, boss, coworker, client, etc.

The goal of the reference check interview is to confirm that candidate has been honest in a job application and interview responses and is indeed a great fit for a certain job position.

Why should you conduct a reference check?

Conducting reference check interviews is your best bet for avoiding making a bad hire.

According to a press release published by Career Builder, around 74% of the companies make bad hiring choices, and each of the bad decisions costs them $17,000 in an average.


Don’t let that happen to you! Don’t get swept away by your candidate's perfect resume and interview answers. Keep your cool and always do a background check and reference check before you offer your perfect candidate a job!

Asking the right reference check interview questions will help you verify the claims made by candidates in their interview and help you make more informed hiring decisions.

Examples of the common reference check interview questions

Here is the list of the common reference check interview questions to ask your top candidates’ former employer and colleagues.

Asking these reference check interview questions will help you uncover the best candidates who are also the best fit for your open job position and your company culture.

Introductory reference check interview questions

  • What was your working relationship with the [candidate’s name] at the [company’s name]?
  • When did [candidate’s name] work at your company?
  • What was the [candidate’s name] job title?
  • Please state the [candidate’s name] main job responsibilities and duties?
  • How would you rate [candidate’s name] overall performance from a scale of 1 to 10?
  • Why did [candidate’s name] leave your company?
  • Would you rehire [candidate’s name]? Why?

Reference check interview questions for assessing candidates’ job fit

  • How did [candidate’s name] handle stressful situations? Please give specific examples.
  • Do you think [candidate’s name] is a good fit for [job position your are looking to fill]?
  • What was [candidate’s name] biggest accomplishment while working for your company?
  • What skills do you think [candidate’s name] needs to develop to reach his/her full potential?

Reference check interview questions for evaluating a company culture fit

  • What type of workplace culture do you think [candidate’s name] would thrive in?
  • Is [candidate’s name] more productive as a solo or a team player according to your experience?
  • How did [candidate’s name] get along with other team members, clients, business partners and managers?

How to use these reference check interview questions?

Employers usually conduct reference check for their top or a few top candidates, before extending a job offer.

Here are a few tips to help you conduct a reference check in the most professional and effective way:

  • Ask your candidates for referee details
  • Always get you candidates’ permission to contact their references
  • Prepare the list of reference check interview questions to ask your candidates’ references
  • Feel free to ask follow up questions when needed
  • Choose the right person to interview - try to get a contact of your candidates’ former supervisor, not their best work buddy
  • Provide a brief description of a role you are looking to fill and your company culture
  • Pay attention to the reference’s tone of voice and how, not just what they say about your candidate.

Looking for more great interview questions?

If you’re looking for more great interview questions to ask in your hiring process, browse our list of interview questions by type.

Make sure you also check out our Complete guide for asking candidates the best interview questions. 🙂

Ultimate Guide for Conducting Job Interviews

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