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Sample Reference Questions

The goal of the reference call is to learn as much about the prospective employee as possible. This is best accomplished through open-ended questions, which will engage the reference in discussion. Below is some sample reference questions:

  1. Tell me about the person’s greatest individual accomplishment?
  2. Tell me about the person’s greatest team accomplishment?
  3. If you were building a team, in what role would you place this person? Why?
  4. What is an example of a situation when the person fell short of expectations?
  5. How did they react to the adversity, pressure and deadlines?
  6. How did they communicate with people at a higher level in the organization? What are some specific examples of the interactions?
  7. How would you evaluate their written communication skills? What are some specific examples?
  8. What are their two strongest technical skills? Can you give an example of a situation where they successfully applied the skills and the difference to the organization?
  9. How would you describe the person’s problem solving approach? What is a specific challenge or problem they solved and the benefit to the organization?
  10. How would evaluate their planning ability? Short-term? Long-term?
  11. Describe their ability to establish and achieve organizational goals?
  12. What are the person’s two strongest leadership and management skills?
  13. Would you work for this person as a subordinate? Why?
  14. How would you evaluate their ability to identify, hire and retain top performers?
  15. How did the individual demonstrate honesty and integrity?
  16. In what role would you rehire the person assuming the position were open?

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