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Job Reference Checks

Sample Reference Check Questions

Listed below are basic and advanced sample reference check questions that your potential employers (or their agents) might ask about you.

If you prefer that your references don't give out certain information, be sure to tell them in advance and offer ways that they might tactfully sidestep the questions.

For example, you might not want them to reveal your salary history, if you think it's none of your potential employer's business or if you want flexibility in negotiation.

In the case of salary, you might coach your references to simply say that they do not have that information. Many won't know it anyway, as only the HR department and your boss should know; but, you don't want your references to guess either.

If you'd like to send these sample reference check questions to your references, then you may download them for free or simply print this page.

Basic Reference Check Sample Questions

These basic reference check sample questions are typical of what potential employers ask about job candidates. The phrasing of each sample question is just an example, but the gist is typical for most reference checks.

  • What were the beginning and ending employment dates for this individual?
  • What was this individual's beginning and ending salary?
  • What positions did the individual hold?
  • Did this individual earn promotions?
  • What were the individual's most-recent job duties?
  • Why did the individual leave your company?
  • Is there any reason why your company would not rehire this individual?
  • Would you recommend this individual for a position at another company? Why or why not?
  • How did this individual's performance compare to other employees with similar job duties?
  • In your opinion, what are the individual's strengths? Weaknesses?
  • Did this individual get along well with management and peers?
  • Was this individual a team player?
  • Was this individual a motivated self-starter?
  • Did any personal problems affect this individual's work performance?
  • Do you think this individual will perform well as a [job title or function]?
  • What kind of job is best suited for this individual's abilities?
  • How would you describe the individual's overall performance?
  • Is there anything of significance you'd like to add?

Advanced Reference Check Sample Questions

These advanced sample reference check questions are typical of what potential employers ask about job candidates who are professionals, managers or executives, in addition to the basic reference check questions above. However, potential employers might ask one or more of these advanced reference check questions about any job candidate.

  • How would you describe the individual's leadership, managerial or supervisory skills?
  • Does the individual communicate well orally and in writing?
  • How do you rate the individual's ability to plan short-term? Long-term?
  • Did the individual make sound and timely decisions?
  • Did the individual get along well with management and peers?
  • Was the individual respected by subordinates?
  • Did the individual plan, administer and make budget well?
  • How would you describe the individual's technical skills?
  • Did the individual demonstrate honesty and integrity?
  • How well did the individual manage crisis, pressure or stress?
  • Describe the individual's ability to attract and counsel top talent.
Tip: For more about planning and preparing for job reference checks, read the article Reference Checks.

Job Reference Checks
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