What Do Employers Ask Your References?

What Do Employers Ask Your References?

You’ve made it through the resume screening and interview process. You know you’re a great fit for the job. The only hurdle left to jump is the reference check.

So what do employers ask your references? What kinds of information are they really digging for? And is there anything you can do to help increase your odds of getting the job?

The Goals of the Hiring Manager

As a recruiting agency with 25 years of experience, Peoplelink knows that the most important goal hiring managers have during the reference checking process is to ensure that you are who you say you are and you can do what you say you can do. The last thing they want is to hire someone that seemed great during the interview process who then falls short once on the job.

So they’ll ask your references some standard employment verification questions regarding your:

  • Job title
  • Duties
  • Dates of employment
  • The reference’s relationship to you
  • Why you left the job

In addition to verifying past employment, hiring managers will be on the prowl for more details about your performance, including your strengths and weaknesses, and accomplishments. They might ask questions such as:

  • “What is the candidate’s biggest strength/weakness,” or
  • “Would you ever consider rehiring the candidate?”

And finally, besides your performance on the job, hiring managers are trying to get a clearer sense of who you are as a person. For instance, are you a lone wolf or a team player? Are you trustworthy or unreliable? They’ll ask a variety of questions, but will be more on the lookout for telltale signs from your reference, like pregnant pauses, stuttering, or incoherent answers.

What You Can Do to Help the Process

  • Provide excellent references. Your best friend may have a lot of terrific things to say about you, but they’re not going to serve as a good reference – unless they’ve been your boss or co-worker in the past. In addition, make sure the references you do choose are good communicators. Even if they had a positive experience with you, if they can’t articulate it well, then it might hurt your chances of getting the job.
  • Make sure you offer at least a couple supervisors as references. Co-workers and colleagues can certainly be used as references, but if you’re asked to give five, then make sure at least two or three are from past supervisors or bosses. They’ll carry more weight with a hiring manager.
  • Prepare your references ahead of time. Make sure you first ask permission to list a person as your reference. Once you do, give them a basic description of the job and refresh their memory about the positive contributions you made working together.

Many times, in the hiring process, reference checking is used to break ties between two – or more – equally strong candidates. So if you make sure you have terrific references, then you can rest easy knowing you’ve done all you can to win the job.

Want More Help Getting Hired?

If you do, give Peoplelink a call. As a recruiting agency with 25 years of experience, Peoplelink works with some of the nation’s top employers and can connect you to a variety of rewarding opportunities in your career field. Contact Peoplelink today to learn more.