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Reference checks - Five questions guaranteed to provide useful insight.

Updated: Sep 9, 2021

The following questions are our take on some questions posted recently by Amanda Natividad. They are sure to encourage some good discussions and turn a 2 minute call into a valuable use of your time spent. These questions are optimised to provide useful feedback.

A typical question that is often asked during a reference check is “what was it like to work with them?” but this is a very vague question and you are likely to get an equally vague response.

1. Where do you see this person in a years time?

Have you seen them be helpful to someone else? Have the reference elaborate on their answer.

2. Tell me about a time you had to spend a fair amount of time coaching them?

This will encourage the reference to really reflect and share a perusal experience that they may have had. You can also ask follow up questions to this to determine how the candidate took the feedback. Look for clues on where the candidate may need extra direction or improvement.

3. When was the last time you disagreed with this person?

A softer more delicate way of seeing how the candidate may handle conflict.

4. How would you rate the candidate overall on a scale of 1-10 but you can not say 7?

So the candidate will be labelled very good or average. This forces the reference to really think carefully.

5. What are some things that they really surprised you about?

You will get an idea of how their behaviour may be in the workplace and willingness to learn!

If you have any great reference checking questions we would love to hear them! Please email us on


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