Reference Check Dos and Donts

Checking applicant references is a must-do for employers. Not only can you obtain insight into a potential employee, but it can also help you assess fit and project future performance.


  • Verify their skills. This allows you to confirm the skills listed on their resume.
  • Ask about their strengths and weaknesses. When you reference check strengths and weaknesses, you can compare what you learned about the candidate in the interview process with how they are viewed by their colleagues.
  • Ask about work performance. Past performance is an indicator of future success.


  • Fail to check references before hiring. Reference checking is a must and to not do so is a risk to your business.
  • Automatically let weaknesses disqualify the candidate. According to World Wide Specialty Programs, absenteeism, tardiness, and attitude are obvious red flags. However, things that can be changed over time such as inexperience or lack of skill shouldnt preclude the candidate from being considered.
  • Ask yes or no questions. Just like in an interview, ask open-ended questions that will allow the respondent to give more information and hopefully elaborate on the question at hand.

Reference checks are an important and crucial step in the hire of any new employee. By following these simple tips, it can be a smooth part of your hiring process.