Executive Reference Check Questions


After the completion of an interview, debates, discussions and agreements on the top candidates follow. It is also the time 

when subsequent interviews can be arranged within your executive recruiting software in case the need be, more so if one of the crucial members of the hiring panel has not met the top candidate, thus the need to initiate executive reference check questions.

Many occasions have the search committee letting all doubts fly during this point in the process. It might be tempting to take the reference check questions as just a routine but it is a critical step in coming up with the final decision and thinking beyond managing the candidate’s transition into the company if all goes well.

Hiring organizations usually underestimate the quality of information that executive reference check questions could provide if the asking and listening is done carefully. Remember the details that could rule out a specific individual are being sought including those things that might be helpful in trading off candidates or those that will help in ensuring the individual who have been picked will be in a position to succeed once he or she has become a part of the organization.


In a number of cases, it is possible to ask reference check questions on the clear top candidate but it is important to gather as much information as possible of more than one top candidate. The details emanating from the reference check could elevate the top candidate or help the executive to think about the best ways of developing and supporting the individual in the most appropriate way.

It is also possible that the executive reference check questions could reveal a lot of information that culminates in the elimination of a candidate. The candidate might have been found to have exaggerated his or her education or employment history for instance in the resume, or depict a history that he or she is unable to work effectively with other co-workers. Building trust with each of the reference is a very important step in getting answers that could open up more than meets the eye.

The individual being referenced must understand the company is interested and want to invest on a person who is only a perfect fit for the corporation and no one is trying to dig up ‘dirt’ or seeking confirmation on matters that are already known.

For this to happen, the executive and hiring team must spend some time right at the beginning with the candidate to introduce themselves and explain what the specific prospect is all about. While you are definitely in search of specific information, it is possible the team will find the reference more forthcoming once the process has taken the form of a dialogue or conversation.

In case it is possible, avoid executive reference check questions eliciting yes or no responses. Focus on open-ended questions allowing the reference to engage in a description of difficulties, accomplishments or events. Make sure you have asked for explanations and examples while listening keenly and drilling questions beyond the initial comments to make the reference process useful.

Listen beyond overall comments made by the reference and note specific choice of words, enthusiasm and tone with which the candidate is being described. To streamline the process, make sure to use a digital reference check service.